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As the usage of smartphones and tablet devices grow, internet cafés are fast becoming the collateral damage in the quest to get China online, the Financial Times reported. The report said these cyber cafés were once the focal social point for the country's twentysomething population and a convenient method for authorities to check the online activity of its citizens.

However, the growing popularity of affordable smartphones and tablets have reached the point that has internet café owners worrying about their growing irrelevance to a lot of Chinese in the same that video rental shops were in the US and Europe, the report said. One of these owners who only goes by the name of Mr. Liu, was quoted in the report as saying, "Several years ago, we were able to get tens of thousands of [renminbi] a day, but now we are only able to earn several thousand." His internet café, which has 30 computers, is located in the central Chaoyangmen district of Beijing.

Citing research by China-based social networking and gaming firm Tencent, the report said the number of internet cafes in China had dropped from 2011 to 2012 after it had growing steadily since 2004. Data is not yet available for this year, but last year, there were 10,000 cyber cafes that shuttered for good. This leaves China with only 136,000 licensed cafes, the report said.

The report said the plunge in the number of cafés came at a time smartphone use has increased. Data from market research firm Canalys said that the percentage of Chinese with smartphones has more than doubled from 20% last year to close to half in 2013. Meanwhile, the brokerage CLSA said the use of home broadband has increased threefold to 191 million last year compared to the number five years ago.

Although internet café owners see this as an unwelcome development, the report said it is good news for users since authorities often use cafes to track the online behavior of the residents, the report stated.

What had been a busy and fairly lucrative industry in Hernando County and other parts of the state came to an almost complete halt in March, when state lawmakers hastily passed a bill banning Internet gaming cafes, which were deemed to be gambling establishments.

Owners of more than 30 businesses in Hernando abruptly closed their doors rather than face possible criminal charges. The handful that did reopen did so under strict concessions that prohibited the arcades from giving away gift cards and limited cash prizes to 75 cents per game.

Terry Kasberg, owner of Spinners Sweepstakes Cafe in Spring Hill, claimed that the new rules decimated his business and drove away his mostly elderly customers, who he said enjoyed playing the games as a social activity.

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Kasberg, whose game room is still open, said that the legislative action was nothing more than an attempt by a politically connected gambling industry to force out small entrepreneurs like himself.

"The law put a lot of people out of work," said Kasberg, who organized a pro-sweepstakes rally outside his store that drew dozens of patrons and cafe owners.

The new legislation came in the wake of a statewide investigation by local, state and federal agencies of 49 Florida cafes connected with a group called Allied Veterans of the World, a purported charity based in Jacksonville that authorities say collected millions of dollars for itself but gave little money to veterans.

The sweep resulted in the arrest of two Spring Hill cafe owners, Anthony William Alascia and John Nicholas Cucciniello, who faced charges of racketeering, keeping a gambling house, fraud and money laundering, among others. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement said that their cafes on Commercial Way and Forest Oaks Boulevard raked in a combined total of more than $20 million.

Many sweepstakes cafe owners said the stigma created by the sweep was unfair to those whose businesses were run in a legitimate manner.

Kasberg and other sweepstakes owners said they will continue to pressure lawmakers to change the law.

Logan Neill, Times staff writer

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Article source: http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/2860d312-62ea-11e3-a87d-00144feabdc0.html

If a market exists for organic meals in the Mid-Mon Valley, Ernie Telegraphis has vowed to corner it.

Telegraphis has been operating the Mon Net Café in the Eastgate section of Monessen for the past 14 months. The eatery offers Wi-Fi connection for laptop users, three computers, a jukebox and an all-organic menu.

“When people get really hungry, they want to go get that greasy stuff because they're conditioned to do so,� Telegraphis said. “I'm incrementally building this. It's a struggle because most people think food is food, and it isn't. I need this place to be a launching pad.�

A lifelong Monessen resident, Telegraphis, 62, got the idea for his business after working at a Greek restaurant and a pizza shop. Now he calls the Mon Net Café his own. The business is as unconventional as its owner — and Telegraphis wouldn't have it any other way.

Although Monessen and its surrounding communities are hardly a hub for food that is certified organic and non-GMO (genetically engineered), Telegraphis insists the premise can, and will, expand.

“You have 400 places within a 10-mile radius where you can eat the same crap: hamburgers, french fries and either Coke or Pepsi,� he said. “I'm attracting those people that are conscious that there are differences in quality of food.�

The menu at Mon Net Café consists of daily lunch platters, salads, side dishes and organic treats such as ice cream, pie and his specialty — fresh organic popcorn. Dinners, sandwiches and personal pizzas are also available.

Telegraphis takes pride in preparing the meals by hand. He refuses to use a microwave, preferring a modest kitchen with ovens, a broiler and a crock pot.

“I tell people it's going to take anywhere from 10 to 15 minutes before we come out with your food,� he said. “People are always in a hurry. You see them go to a place and they want to stuff their face and leave. It's not fast food here. This place is a leisurely eatery with a slow pace.�

Telegraphis also offers organic-only drinks: cola, ginger ale and root beer. High fructose corn syrup is not allowed in the Mon Net Café.

“I get all my soda from Colorado. There's no phosphoric acid or caramel coloring ... all those things can lead to degenerative diseases,â€� Telegraphis said. “People have told me told me ‘Oh you advertise that everything's organic — that's just a ploy,' and I show everybody the labels. The extra virgin olive oil I use is organic; the pizza sauce that comes from Italy is organic; even the half-and-half creamers are organic.â€�

He also insists on using bottled spring water for cooking.

“The only thing I use city water for is to do the dishes,� he said.

The Mon Net Café offers delivery, and its hours run from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. seven days a week. Telegraphis said he has decided not to run breakfast hours despite several requests.

Customers can order food, sit down and access the internet. Telegraphis is also preparing for people who want to sit and work on their tax returns. The computers are free for patrons to use.

“I see a lot of people come down to the library, but they couldn't get everything addressed there,� Telegraphis said. “I want this to be a place to come if you need to do something on the computer or sit down and get your thoughts together.

“At the same time, we want you to nourish yourself by eating properly. If you're eating just to fill your gut, you're doing your whole body a disservice and you're going to pay for it down the road.�

Rick Bruni Jr. is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at rbruni@tribweb.com or 724-684-2635.

Article source: http://triblive.com/neighborhoods/yourmonvalley/yourmonvalleymore/5308011-74/telegraphis-organic-mon

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Article source: http://www.sanduskyregister.com/article/crime/5099106

TARBORO — An Edgecombe County jury found Richard Conoley Chapman, 66, and Kwana Spruill, 37, guilty in Edgecombe County Superior court on Wednesday for operating an illegal Internet Cafe. The case stems from the duo's district court appeal in July where they were also found guilty on the same charges.

The verdicts could become controversial due to several Internet Cafes, which are also called Sweepstakes Cafes, that continue to operate in Edgecombe County as well as throughout some portions of the state. Sweepstakes owners have been fighting to legalize the business for several months. Last December, the court of appeals upheld a state law that banned the businesses.

"I think the jury rendered the law as it is written," said Tarboro Police Chief Damon Williams. "We put together a case that showed that they were in clear violation of the law."

Chapman, the owner of Past Times Internet Cafe and Spruill, the manager of the establishment, were charged by the Tarboro police on April 15 during a raid of the establishment on St. Andrew Street. The officers confiscated money and equipment from the establisment.

Prior to the raid, Tarboro police warned the owner on several occasions that the business was in violation of North Carolina law. The written warning also went out to three other Internet Cafe businesses in town. Those three business closed without confrontations. Past Times reportedly closed, but then reopened.

At least three other internet cafe businesses outside the Tarboro city limits received the same written warning. They closed without incident. However, five outside of the city limits, are currently in operation including two that have reopened.

Licenses to operate any business must be approved by the governing body of the town in which the business will be operated in. Edgecombe County was responsible for issuing business licenses for the five sweepstakes businesses in the county.

Since April, Williams said at least five sweepstakes owners have inquired about opening in his jurisdiction. He denied their requests with a harsh warning.

"I told them if they come here, we will prosecute," Williams said. "I hope that my department's case will set a precedent to ban other sweepstakes businesses in the county and the state."

Wednesday's case may be an indication that Williams will stand by his words. Chapman was sentenced to 45 days in Edgecombe County Detention Center, suspended for 36 months of unsupervised probation, pay cost of court and a $200 fine.

Spruell was sentenced to 45 days, which was suspended for 12 months of unsupervised probation, and pay the cost of court.

The judge ordered the money confiscated from the raid to be placed in Edgecombe County's general fund where it will be used by Edgecombe County Public Schools. The computers were turned over to the owner.

Gwenette Mills, an employee of the business, was also charged and convicted in district court. However, a clerk at the Edgecombe County Clerk of Court office said there was no documents showing that she was on trial in Superior Court.

 

Article source: http://www.dailysoutherner.com/x1956136381/Internet-cafe-duo-guilty

GARNER, N.C. -

Garner police said Friends Internet Café was robbed Dec. 11 by an unknown suspect with a stun gun.

A black male suspect entered the business just after midnight demanding money, police said. The suspect threatened an employee and customer with what was apparently a stun gun.

Police said no one was injured in the incident.

The suspect is described a black male between the ages of 18-25, standing around 5 feet 10 inches tall and weighing approximately 150 to 180 pounds. He had a beard and mustache wearing green plaid shirt, blue jeans, tennis shoes, black knit cap, and black gloves.

Anyone with information on this suspect is asked to call Investigator Paul Caldwell at 919-772-8810.

 

Article source: http://www.wncn.com/story/24234181/suspect-robs-internet

GARNER, N.C. -

Garner police said Friends Internet Café was robbed Dec. 11 by an unknown suspect with a stun gun.

A black male suspect entered the business just after midnight demanding money, police said. The suspect threatened an employee and customer with what was apparently a stun gun.

Police said no one was injured in the incident.

The suspect is described a black male between the ages of 18-25, standing around 5 feet 10 inches tall and weighing approximately 150 to 180 pounds. He had a beard and mustache wearing green plaid shirt, blue jeans, tennis shoes, black knit cap, and black gloves.

Anyone with information on this suspect is asked to call Investigator Paul Caldwell at 919-772-8810.

 

Your odds of winning are better in Las Vegas. That's what Fresno police are saying after busting an illegal gambling operation.

The signs outside "Biz Center" say you can use Wi-Fi, make copies, even pay your bills. But police say none of those services were ever used and what happened behind those doors is not only rare, but illegal.

It took a few hours for these undercover cops to move what is now considered evidence out of the "Biz Center" and into a Fresno Police truck.

Those same officers have been investigating the internet café for months. Some have gambled, some have lost, some have won, but regardless of the payout their conclusion was the same.

Fresno Police Sgt. Curt Chastain said, "Our investigation showed everyone in there was gambling."

He says that type of gambling is illegal in California unless you're at an Indian casino. Police say this internet cafe's popularity was in fact spreading to the reservations. Customers told police they heard they could save themselves the drive and try their hands in Central Fresno.

Chastain said, "The only difference is that it's being played on a computer terminal, like a video poker game."

The internet café opened up in May and since then, police have gotten phone calls from nearly every other business in the center. "They reported drug dealing, prostitution, we've had an increase of robberies, people coming here to gamble have been robbed as they're going out."

The manager of the nearby Advance America center tells Action News when the café opened, he started worrying about his own customers.

Robbie Matthews is the manager of Advance America and said, "They're our main priority, our customers, we've had multiple customers come in and ask what's going on outside, they would stay in their cars until certain people would walk away and then come inside and tell us that."

Police now say they'll be following the paper trail, tracking down the owner and counting up the profits which they believe were lucrative.

Police did a similar raid on another internet café back in March and say the profits in that case were up to $10 thousand a day. That case is now at the District Attorney's Office.

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Your odds of winning are better in Las Vegas. That's what Fresno police are saying after busting an illegal gambling operation.

The signs outside "Biz Center" say you can use Wi-Fi, make copies, even pay your bills. But police say none of those services were ever used and what happened behind those doors is not only rare, but illegal.

It took a few hours for these undercover cops to move what is now considered evidence out of the "Biz Center" and into a Fresno Police truck.

Those same officers have been investigating the internet café for months. Some have gambled, some have lost, some have won, but regardless of the payout their conclusion was the same.

Fresno Police Sgt. Curt Chastain said, "Our investigation showed everyone in there was gambling."

He says that type of gambling is illegal in California unless you're at an Indian casino. Police say this internet cafe's popularity was in fact spreading to the reservations. Customers told police they heard they could save themselves the drive and try their hands in Central Fresno.

Chastain said, "The only difference is that it's being played on a computer terminal, like a video poker game."

The internet café opened up in May and since then, police have gotten phone calls from nearly every other business in the center. "They reported drug dealing, prostitution, we've had an increase of robberies, people coming here to gamble have been robbed as they're going out."

The manager of the nearby Advance America center tells Action News when the café opened, he started worrying about his own customers.

Robbie Matthews is the manager of Advance America and said, "They're our main priority, our customers, we've had multiple customers come in and ask what's going on outside, they would stay in their cars until certain people would walk away and then come inside and tell us that."

Police now say they'll be following the paper trail, tracking down the owner and counting up the profits which they believe were lucrative.

Police did a similar raid on another internet café back in March and say the profits in that case were up to $10 thousand a day. That case is now at the District Attorney's Office.

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ABC7 Poll

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fresno police department, crimetracker, fresno, fresno county, local, stephanie stone
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