By JULIE CARR SMYTH
AP Statehouse Correspondent
Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine has angrily rebuked a promoter of video raffle machines, saying the businessman misstated his office’s legal position on the games and should retract his statements.
In a March letter to Tim Smith, the attorney general wrote: “Your organization is misrepresenting the Attorney General’s position on your machines. We demand that you cease making these misrepresentations, and take steps to correct these misrepresentations.”
Smith is a liaison to the Ohio Veterans & Fraternal Charitable Coalition, and a consultant to Charitable Management & Capital Group, the vendor of the machines that are pitched to groups like the Masons, Eagles and Moose. DeWine’s office released a copy of the letter Friday to The Associated Press.
Smith said in a letter last spring to member charities of the coalition that DeWine is “fully in favor” of the terminals and agreed they were legal — a statement DeWine says is not true. In Smith’s letter, obtained by the AP, Smith described the devices as “a raffle form of bingo” that’s legally allowed in Ohio.
He sought to assuage clients’ concerns that the raffle terminals might be considered Internet cafes like those now targeted by a proposed statewide ban.
“This is unsettling for those fraternal and military organizations that either have some of those machines in their clubs or posts, or are contemplating adding CMCG’s Video Raffle Terminals to their organization,” he wrote.
Smith described “many meetings” with DeWine, Gov. John Kasich and Charitable Management chief executive Al DeLeon to work out details for accepting the machines statewide.
“They are fully in favor of our raffle-based terminals and agree they meet the criteria for the Revised Code,” Smith wrote.
But Kasich spokesman Rob Nichols said in an email Friday: “That is not an accurate description of our position on this issue.”
DeWine spokesman Dan Tierney said the attorney general has given the coalition until Aug. 1 to get state lawmakers to legalize the machines or coalition members will face enforcement action for the machines remaining in operation.
Lawmakers could legalize the machines as part of legislation on Internet cafes that the state Senate is currently debating.