MARIETTA - A statewide moratorium on the opening of Internet sweepstakes cafes through next June didn't affect the local Double Diamond Sweeepstakes facility at 1003 Pike St., according to manager Cassie Hickman.
"This location opened back in December, before the moratorium, so we're not included," she said.
The El Paso, Texas-based business did file an affidavit with Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine's office, as required of internet sweepstakes cafes already operating prior to the moratorium that began June 11, 2012.
Photo by Sam Shawver
Cassie Hickman, manager of the Double Diamond Sweepstakes parlor on Pike Street in Marietta, is shown with a terminal at the facility’s Internet sweepstakes location.
According to the Attorney General's Web site, Double Diamond is the only Internet sweepstakes cafe currently operating in Washington County.
But the establishment faces stiff competition from a host of similar Internet cafes just across the Ohio River in West Virginia. There are four in Williamstown alone.
"Business has been running slow lately-we had about 30 customers last week," Hickman said. "But we're trying to build it up-we offer daily tournaments and raffle off a television twice every month. And every Wednesday we ask people to bring in food for the local food pantries."
At A Glance
A portion of Amended Substitute House Bill 386, signed into law June 11, placed a moratorium on the opening of new Internet sweepstakes cafes in Ohio from June 2012 through June 2013.
At least 772 Internet sweepstakes parlors were already in operation in the state prior to the moratorium.
Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine estimates there are more than 7,000 Internet sweepstakes terminals that should come under statewide regulation.
There is only one Internet sweepstakes facility currently registered in Washington County.
Source: Ohio Attorney General's Office
Double Diamond is open from 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. daily and provides a variety of Internet gaming for customers age 18 and older.
Hickman said clients play for different reasons.
"Some come mainly to play and win sweepstakes cash, but others just come in to relax and chill out awhile," she said. "It's just a form of recreation for them."
Double Diamond was among 667 already existing cafes that filed affidavits with DeWine's office by the July 11 deadline, according to the Ohio Attorney General's Web site. And another 105 filed past the deadline.
"The total number of Internet cafe sweepstakes parlors just keeps going up and up," DeWine said in a recent news release.
"Clearly there are more of them than anyone estimated, which only underscores the need for statewide regulation," he added.
DeWine said there are likely more Internet sweepstakes terminals operating in Ohio than there are slot machines and video lottery terminals at the state's casinos and racetracks. He estimated there could be at least 7,600 sweepstakes terminals, compared to 5,873 video lottery terminals currently operational in the state.
Charlie McLeish, who operates McLeish Auction Service on Margaret Street, a block or so from the Double Diamond facility, has no problem with the business being located on Pike Street.
"You wouldn't even know they're there," he said. "I don't think they do a lot of business."
Whipple resident Patricia Buck has no interest in playing games at Internet sweepstakes facilities.
"I think they can cause a lot of problems, but I think the state should regulate them-they tax everything else, and then the state could reduce the amount the rest of us have to pay," she said.