Internet cafes raided in Austintown

AUSTINTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) — The investigation is still ongoing after multiple law enforcement agencies raided three Internet cafes in Austintown on Thursday.

Now those cafe owners may be in big trouble.

Akron truck driver John Elliot said he goes to the Gold Strike Cafe in Austintown, with his most recent visit being earlier this week.

“They’re fun to play,” he said.

Elliot was surprised to hear Gold Strike Cafe and neighboring business Club 76 were raided Thursday afternoon.

“Honestly, I didn’t think anyone knew about it. It sits off in the back,” Elliot said.

The Mahoning Valley Law Enforcement Task force has been investigating illegal gambling operations at three different businesses in Austintown and a private residence in North Jackson since last December.

“It’s illegal to be paid cash for gaming. Any amount of cash,” said Jeff Solic, commander of the Mahoning Valley Law Enforcement Task Force. “Any cash payout is illegal and both of these locations were paying out in cash.”

No arrests were made, but police seized 38 casino-style gambling machines, cash and other records.

After the state of Ohio changed laws to make online gambling illegal, most Internet cafes shut down. But, those who gamble at the cafes say if one is closed, another will open elsewhere.

“Eventually, they are going to come back up on them, somehow, someway. You know, you hate to say it, if somebody wants to break the law, they are going to figure out a little smaller, a little gap,” Elliot said.

Similar raids have taken place in other parts of the state since the Internet cafe law was changed.

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