NORTH RIDGEVILLE -- The tinkling and chirping of internet cafe games are familiar sounds in this city.
The community of 30,000 people has six cafe establishments.
The city considered banning or accepting them. And after input from seniors who wanted cafes in their hometown, decided they could be a benefit and be regulated by city hall.
Mayor David Gillock says the city vets all owners and workers for criminal records. Out ofseveral workers, only one worker with a felony record was screened out.
"We told them he could come in there, but could not work there," Gillock said.
Gillock said the only other problem was one player who wanted to keep playing a card past the appointed 11 p.m. closing time.
"We've had no problems. They fill empty buildings and they provide jobs and they are providing a social experiences for our seniors...and they are bringing in money to our city coffers," he said.
The city makes about $110,000 per year with annual licensing and monthly machine fees.
Gillock has been to Columbus once to testify to a House Committee in favor of regulating, not killing, cafes.
The House has passed legislation andhe is willing to testify again if summoned by the Senate, which is expected to review gambling legislation soon.
It's unclear if and when there will be a vote on the proposed ban.
Cafe critics say they are all illegal gambling because voters never approved them.
North Ridgeville voters did okay cafes in their city.
Many cafe patrons say they are a source ofsenior relaxation and communitycamaraderie.
The establishments each hire a handful of workers.