Ohio has shut down electronic poker machines as operating them is illegal according to the state’s gambling laws.
Just last month, the office of Mike DeWine, the attorney general, had conducted a thorough investigation of Buckeye Charity Poker, which had been operating electronic poker games for over a year. As a result of this investigation, the charity poker room, which was located at Willoughby Hills in Lake County, had to be shut down.
According to DeWine’s office, Ohio law considers electronic poker machines as slot machines and therefore illegal. Slots games are permitted only in Ohio’s seven racinos and four casinos as they operate under a state-issued license.
Buckeye Charity Poker used electronic poker machines, which required players to sit around a poker table fitted with flat-screen monitors. Players have to place their bets on a card, which was then slid inside the machine. Poker cards were displayed not only on each player’s screen, but also on a larger community screen placed on the table.
According to Pete Thomas, who heads the charity gambling section of the attorney general’s office, investigation on the legality of electronic poker machines began some time back. The office then issued a letter to Buckeye Charity Poker, ordering its closure, as a result of which, the business pulled down its shutters on September 7. Thomas said: “When we looked at these machines under revised code, they fall into the broad definition of slot machines in the state of Ohio.” However, electronic poker machines are different from electronic raffles machines and Internet sweepstakes cafes, which are also held to be illegal in Ohio.
The attorney general’s office stated that Buckeye Charity Poker operated a business although it diverted as much as $150,000 of its poker revenues to charitable organizations.
DeWine’s office also sent a legal opinion to Dennis P. Will, prosecutor of Lorain County, who had once expressed concerns about Buckeye’s plans to expand into Lorain County.
Buckeye Charity Poker has sent an email to The Dispatch that it “assisted dozens of qualified 501c3 charities to raise tens of thousands of dollars to support their very worthy causes” by providing them the required infrastructure and venue to conduct fund-raising poker festivals, which are held to be legal in Ohio.
Buckeye has also expressed hopes that Ohio’s law makers “may soon consider legislation to permit charities big and small to support their worthwhile causes utilizing the new technologies that were introduced by Buckeye Charity Poker.”