The continued crackdown of illegal game rooms in northern Ohio has resulted in an indictment. A Canton man is charged with running an illegal game room.
Ohio currently operates four casinos and seven racionos. Otherwise, no person may operate a game room where a player can win cash prizes by playing games that do not rely completely on skill.
The Department of Justice has charged 47-year-old Steven Saris of Canton with running an illegal gambling business for more than five years. The indictment alleges that Saris and “other known and unknown co-conspirators” operated the Café 62 game room in Plain Township near Canton.
It also alleges that they had a stand-in to act as owner of the now-defunct establishment.
Operation had illegal slot machines
The DOJ indictment alleges that Saris and a company “of five or more individuals” operated illegal slot machines that paid out cash prizes during the five-year period between 2013 and 2018.
It further claims the business stayed in continuous operation during that time, bringing in over $2,000 per day.
Café bust part of a larger crackdown
In July of 2018, the IRS, U.S. Treasury Office of the Inspector General and the Secret Service, along with the Ohio Casino Control Commission, presented warrants at a number of “skill game” rooms in Stark County.
These visits came as a surprise to operators, many of whom were later indicted for similar offenses related to illegal gambling.
The location where Café 62 once stood had also been the site of other game rooms. 777 Skill Games operated there in 2011, as did Piccolo Vegas Skill Games. Before that, it had been Tic Tac Skill Games from 2006-2007.
OCCC has been on the hunt for illegal game rooms for years
In 2015, a law gave the OCCC wide-ranging authority to regulate game rooms. Since then, the commission has shut down dozens of illegal operations across Ohio.
At the time, illegal game rooms had been popping up all over Ohio. Many offered “skill games” with cash prizes in places that looked like pizza arcades. The OCCC’s crackdown has since shuttered most of those operations.