Bryan Cohen Aug. 6, 2013, 5:35pm

MARYSVILLE, Ohio (Legal Newsline) -- Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine said Thursday his office has begun a multi-jurisdictional inquiry of Internet cafes over alleged illegal gambling and other criminal activity.

Investigators with DeWine's office, the Union County Sheriff's Office and the Marysville Police Department served search warrants to five cafes, including the Bellefontaine-based Belle Phone Internet Café, the Kenton-based Kenton Internet Café, the Sidney-based Sidney Internet Café, the Middletown-based Middletown Sweepstakes Café and the Marysville-based Marysville Internet Café.

Marysville Police Chief Floyd Golden said the activity at the five sweepstakes cafes was a long-time concern.

Golden said the inquiry started with one Internet cafe and a skill game establishment and grew as the alleged illegal activity was occurring at multiple businesses in several jurisdictions.

"We are still in the beginning stages of what we expect to be a very lengthy investigation," DeWine said. "While it is too early in the investigation to go into specifics, we do believe the alleged criminal activity at these locations goes beyond illegal gambling."

Union County Sheriff Jamie Patton said senior citizens in the affected counties must be protected from establishments that entice them to engage in alleged illegal gambling.

There were no arrests planned as part of Thursday's search warrants, but there could be charges filed in the matter going forward.

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