By Felicia A. Petro
Allied News Senior Reporter
GROVE CITY —
The Mercer County district attorney will be cracking down on Internet gambling parlors next week – except for one in Grove City.
“I talked to Bob Kochems twice today,” said Danny Como, who owns 157 Internet Cafe on 157 S. Broad St. “I don’t have to close down. I’m different than the rest of them.”
Internet sweepstakes parlors have operated this year in Pennsylvania by selling phone cards which entered patrons into a finite sweepstakes pool.
Patrons could redeem the cards right away to see if they won any money, or use the cards to buy Internet time to play casino-like games that eventually revealed if they won or lost.
Legislators believed the games were a way to skirt the state’s gaming law.
Gov. Tom Corbett agreed, and signed a law on June 30 that closed the operations – and an appeal for an injunction in Luzerne County was recently lost in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania.
Como just opened his business weeks before Corbett signed the law, closed down for a couple of weeks, then reopened when the injunction was being decided, just like others in the state.
He contemplated buying the phone card system, but instead opted to sell Internet time alone that customers could use for whatever Internet benefit they liked – gambling or not, he said.
“Most of the people are coming in for (regular) Internet,” he said, such as college students. Como sells the time for $5 per hour.
Law officers will raid Internet gambling establishments Oct. 22 if they are still open.
Como is glad he isn’t one of them.
He said he was expected to get a document on Tuesday from Kochems proving to any law officer paying him a visit that his establishment is legit.
In the meantime, he will clean up his store window from the fake money and coins that designated his business primarily as an Internet gaming location.
“It looks cheesy,” Como said.