Get Adobe Flash player

cleveland

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.

<!-- POLL

ABC7 Poll

-->

Get more Local »


fresno police department, crimetracker, fresno, fresno county, local, stephanie stone
<!--
-->

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.

<!-- POLL

ABC7 Poll

-->

Get more Local »


fresno police department, crimetracker, fresno, fresno county, local, stephanie stone
<!--
-->

China's Internet Cafes Are Disappearing. What's Going On?!S

China, the middle kingdom. The Orient. The place where the legality of game consoles are suspect has always been the home of internet cafes. The number of internet cafes, which served as dens to many of China's netizens, has suddenly gone down over the course of 2011-2012—by as many as 10,000.

Now, you may be saying, Eric, 10,000 anything in China is like a grain of rice in a rice cooker. China's huge, there's no doubt about that. However, according to research done by Tencent, one of China's largest internet companies and video game providers, the total number of licensed internet cafes that cater to all of China's net cafe users in 2011 was about 146,000. That number shrunk down to 136,000 or so in 2012, and according to Tencent's research, this number could dwindle even more when the 2013 numbers come out.

China's Internet Cafes Are Disappearing. What's Going On?!

Posted in a nifty infographic, Tencent depicts the history of internet cafes in China and expands on possible reasons for the decline in cafes. Tencent posits that net cafes in China are dwindling due to four major factors.

  • The advancement of smartphone technology: Smartphones and mobile internet are getting better, and they are able to satisfy basic users who go online to watch videos, read, blog, or shop.
  • It is becoming cheaper to own your own computer and have broadband internet access in China's first and second tier cities.
  • Safety issues at internet cafes have deterred some users.
  • The overhead in running an internet cafe has grown substantially: Rent is becoming pricier, and the price for a good employee has also gone up.

On top of the decline in physical net cafes, Tencent also reports that there is a drastic drop in net cafe users, which would obviously mean a decline in the cafes themselves.

Despite the decline in users and cafes, I believe net cafes will see a surge in the coming years as infrastructure grows in China's third and fourth tier cities. Tencent also agrees, citing that there's a growth of net cafes in the third and fourth tier cities because there is a still a need for them. Personally, I'm pro internet cafe, especially since most Chinese online games are PC-only and I own a Mac...

Source: 中国网吧大调查[Tencent]

Kotaku East is your slice of Asian internet culture, bringing you the latest talking points from Japan, Korea, China and beyond. Tune in every morning from 4am to 8am.

Eric is a Beijing based writer and all around FAT man. You can contact him @FatAsianTechie@gmail.com or follow him on Twitter @FatAsianTechie.

Article source: http://kotaku.com/chinas-internet-cafes-are-disappearing-whats-going-o-1479419777

South Africa’s second mobile operator MTN has launched its eStreet mobile internet cafe project, focusing particularly on rural destinations.

MTN customers will have access to consistent internet connectivity at the eStreet cafes, with the company saying the initiative hopes to promote online information sharing and encourage customers to connect with the world.

The eStreet cafes will also feature a free interactive service for MTN customers to help educate about smart devices and the digital environment.

“Through the MTN eStreet mobile internet café we are giving consumers the opportunity to not only experience the bold new digital world, but learn how it will benefit their lives, bridging the digital divide and connecting communities for the good of the country,” said Brian Gouldie, chief marketing officer (CMO) at MTN.

 “The MTN eStreet mobile internet café will travel around the country, especially to the often forgotten communities outside the urban centres. The café will ensure that new and existing subscribers get the most out of our world-class network, smart technologies and online solutions.”

According to MTN, the initiative has been spurred by the increasing uptake of smart devices and growth in the importance of internet connectivity globally speaking in everyday life.

This trend, the operator said, presents the need to ensure everyone is smartphone-savvy and knows how to leverage online platforms.

Article source: http://www.humanipo.com/news/37312/mtn-launches-rural-mobile-internet-cafes/

City officials say the cafes are outlets for illegal gambling, and compare the computer software most use to "Las Vegas-style electronic slot machines."

Currently, however, the Kern County District Attorney's office is not filing cases against the cafes, pending two appellate court rulings that its attorneys say will strengthen their legal footing.

In the interim, the City Attorney's office is sending letters to owners and their landlords informing them that it believes what they are doing is illegal -- and reaching out to Salas for help.

"I intend to introduce legislation to bring clarity about Internet gambling sweepstakes and seek the best solution to stop the proliferation of thinly veiled illegal gambling operations," Salas said in a statement, characterizing the cafes as "a threat to both public safety and local business."

According to a Nov. 13 police memorandum presented to the Safe Neighborhoods and Community Relations Committee Thursday, the number of Internet cafes has grown from 12 to 13, with the opening of E. Net World Business Center, 4145 Ming Ave.

A tally by The Californian reveals two additional cafes at the Golden State Mall, 3201 F St.: Shockers, in Suites 157 and 158, and Oz Internet Cafe Hub, in Suite 127.

"I'm really kind of shocked," said Associate City Attorney Thomas Geddes, when asked about the two cafes, adding that he will check on them.

Police Chief Greg Williamson said at the meeting that while the number of cafes has risen, none has generated excessive calls for service during the last 30 days.

"It appears that most of our enforcement actions have been taken outside the iSweeps Internet cafe," Williamson said.

According to the memo, Bakersfield police visited iSweeps and a neighboring cafe, iNet, three times last month.

Police arrested two people outside the two cafes on Oct. 15, one on suspicion of possessing methamphetamine and one on suspicion of possessing stolen property.

On Oct. 22, Bakersfield police arrested a felon allegedly in possession of a loaded, sawed-off shotgun at the shopping center that houses iSweeps and iNet.

The committee, which comprises three council members, also learned Wednesday that gang-related homicides and shootings are fewer so far this year than last.

Bakersfield police Lt. Greg Terry explained that gang-related homicides have declined from 15 for the period of January through October 2012, to 9 from January through October 2013.

Gang-related shootings have declined only slightly, from 52 for the period of January through October 2012, to 51 from January through October 2013.

Terry said in an interview that 20 of the year's gang-related shootings occurred in its first three months, and that violence declined as police increased enforcement.

"In the last nine months, we've only had 31 gang-related shootings," Terry said.

Article source: http://www.bakersfieldcalifornian.com/local/x1618152198/Assemblyman-promises-Internet-cafe-legislation

Internet cafes across the developing world are reporting dwindling numbers of customers as smartphones make the mobile web ubiquitous. After all, why pay for web access on someone else’s creaky old PC when you can peruse Facebook on your Android device from anywhere you like?

In Rwanda, a cafe owner told the New Times last month that he once had 200 customers per day; now he sees about 10. Internet cafes in India are also suffering—some in the southern city of Mysore have opted to sell stationery or sweets instead of web access, while others have diversified their offerings to include flight bookings, mobile phone top-up cards, and accessories for various gadgets. Cafes in Thailand seem to be facing similar challenges when it comes to customer volume, and even cyber cafes in Myanmar, where mobile penetration is just 4%, say visitors have fallen sharply.

Even more developed markets, like those in East Asia, are seeing fewer people flock to venues that cater to immersive online gaming, which one might assume to be immune from the PC to mobile shift. The number of these facilities in South Korea fell to 15,800 last year from 19,000 in 2010, a 17% drop, according to Allison Luong, managing director of gaming industry consultancy Pearl Research. The number of cafes in China, meanwhile, dropped 7% to 136,000 in 2012 from the previous year, she told Quartz.

Some argue, however, that smartphone adoption doesn’t necessarily mean consumers can surmount the digital divide and tap the Web’s full potential. A five-year study released by the University of Washington in July found that Web users in some developing countries continue to rely on public venues like cafes and libraries for Web access even when smartphones are available. “One technology doesn’t replace the other,” the University’s Chris Coward told the global development site Humanosphere. Mobile phones “will not solve the access problem.”

Article source: http://qz.com/148734/internet-cafes-in-the-developing-world-find-out-what-happens-when-everyone-gets-a-smartphone/

An armed robber ran into some very bad luck at the “777” Internet cafe on the Lower East Side late Saturday, when he was subdued and beaten bloody by employees.

“We took him down, man,” maintenance engineer Louis Striker told The Post.

“He hit my manager two times in the head with the gun, and me and the manager beat him to a pulp.”

The unlucky thief — whose name was not immediately available — managed to squeeze off two shots into the ceiling before the brave employees subdued and held him for arriving cops.

Article source: http://nypost.com/2013/11/17/internet-cafe-thief-thwarted/

By  Jim Siegel

The Columbus Dispatch Thursday November 14, 2013 4:23 AM

Over objections from Attorney General Mike DeWine and Senate Republicans, the Ohio House stripped from a bill a provision that would have stuck a second knife into the state’s Internet-cafe industry.

“It’s very disappointing, to say the least,” Sen. Jim Hughes, R-Columbus, said yesterday. Hughes is a joint sponsor of Senate Bill 141, which attempted to place another layer of restrictions on what were largely unregulated gambling operations.

Though lawmakers earlier this year passed House Bill 7, which limits sweepstakes machine payouts and has resulted in the closing of many Internet cafes or sweepstakes parlors, Senate Republicans were concerned the bill had holes that operators could try to exploit. So they passed another bill in June that would prohibit any business from conducting sweepstakes that exceed 5 percent of the business’s gross annual revenue.

Senate GOP leaders also were concerned that the Internet-cafe industry might overturn or delay implementation of House Bill 7 for about 18 months through a ballot referendum. But cafe owners failed to collect enough signatures to qualify for the ballot, allowing the law to go into effect.

“The desire to deal with it again, I think, was a problem for our caucus,” said Speaker William G. Batchelder, R-Medina. “We do have a law now.”

Senate President Keith Faber, R-Celina, said he was not happy with the change and planned to send the bill to a conference committee in an attempt to work it out.

Sen. Larry Obhof, R-Medina, a joint sponsor of the bill, said he was not told until yesterday that the House planned to strip out the Internet-cafe provision. The remaining portion of the bill helps deal with money laundering schemes by players at Ohio casinos.

“Our concern is that, as with prior attempts to regulate certain types of gaming, that we’d be playing a game of Whack-a-mole. We thought the language in Senate Bill 141 was the best approach to preventing that,” he said.

Before a House committee vote on the bill, Rep. Ron Gerberry, D-Austintown, said he sees some Internet cafes are still operating. He questioned whether it’s a good idea to remove the provision.

Peter Thomas, chief of the Charitable Law Section at the attorney general’s office, said DeWine was a strong supporter of House Bill 7, but the new proposal would help further “clamp down on these industries.”

Also yesterday, during the Senate session, a measure to revamp Ohio’s Medicaid law passed 27-5.

Sen. Dave Burke, the Marysville Republican who sponsored Senate Bill 206, said if spending targets — not mandates — are met in the bill, each Ohioan would save $750 over the next six years.

The Senate also approved 32-0 a bill — sponsored by Lancaster Republican Tim Schaffer — that would prohibit a driver from operating a vehicle on a closed road covered by high water. The bill would impose a fine to pay for the person’s rescue.

Both bills now go to the House.

Dispatch Public Affairs Editor Darrel Rowland contributed to this story.

jsiegel@dispatch.com

@phrontpage

By  Jim Siegel

The Columbus Dispatch Thursday November 14, 2013 4:23 AM

Over objections from Attorney General Mike DeWine and Senate Republicans, the Ohio House stripped from a bill a provision that would have stuck a second knife into the state’s Internet-cafe industry.

“It’s very disappointing, to say the least,” Sen. Jim Hughes, R-Columbus, said yesterday. Hughes is a joint sponsor of Senate Bill 141, which attempted to place another layer of restrictions on what were largely unregulated gambling operations.

Though lawmakers earlier this year passed House Bill 7, which limits sweepstakes machine payouts and has resulted in the closing of many Internet cafes or sweepstakes parlors, Senate Republicans were concerned the bill had holes that operators could try to exploit. So they passed another bill in June that would prohibit any business from conducting sweepstakes that exceed 5 percent of the business’s gross annual revenue.

Senate GOP leaders also were concerned that the Internet-cafe industry might overturn or delay implementation of House Bill 7 for about 18 months through a ballot referendum. But cafe owners failed to collect enough signatures to qualify for the ballot, allowing the law to go into effect.

“The desire to deal with it again, I think, was a problem for our caucus,” said Speaker William G. Batchelder, R-Medina. “We do have a law now.”

Senate President Keith Faber, R-Celina, said he was not happy with the change and planned to send the bill to a conference committee in an attempt to work it out.

Sen. Larry Obhof, R-Medina, a joint sponsor of the bill, said he was not told until yesterday that the House planned to strip out the Internet-cafe provision. The remaining portion of the bill helps deal with money laundering schemes by players at Ohio casinos.

“Our concern is that, as with prior attempts to regulate certain types of gaming, that we’d be playing a game of Whack-a-mole. We thought the language in Senate Bill 141 was the best approach to preventing that,” he said.

Before a House committee vote on the bill, Rep. Ron Gerberry, D-Austintown, said he sees some Internet cafes are still operating. He questioned whether it’s a good idea to remove the provision.

Peter Thomas, chief of the Charitable Law Section at the attorney general’s office, said DeWine was a strong supporter of House Bill 7, but the new proposal would help further “clamp down on these industries.”

Also yesterday, during the Senate session, a measure to revamp Ohio’s Medicaid law passed 27-5.

Sen. Dave Burke, the Marysville Republican who sponsored Senate Bill 206, said if spending targets — not mandates — are met in the bill, each Ohioan would save $750 over the next six years.

The Senate also approved 32-0 a bill — sponsored by Lancaster Republican Tim Schaffer — that would prohibit a driver from operating a vehicle on a closed road covered by high water. The bill would impose a fine to pay for the person’s rescue.

Both bills now go to the House.

Dispatch Public Affairs Editor Darrel Rowland contributed to this story.

jsiegel@dispatch.com

@phrontpage

“Welcome to The Palms II! Happy to be Back!” read a white board over employee Dee Anderson’s right shoulder. The shop, located inside the Friendship Shopping Plaza on State Road 200, closed several months ago but re-opened in August.

“I’m just so happy to be back,” Anderson said. “We waited and waited; it’s a beautiful thing.”

A sheet of paper stuck to the window of another Internet cafe, off U.S. 441 in a Belleview strip mall, reads “will be open soon” in orange marker.

Owners at both cafes declined interview requests from the Star-Banner and therefore could not discuss what policies had changed to make the establishments no longer targets for authorities in search of illegal gambling.

Palms patron Gilda Sera, 87, said she had noticed small tweaks in the games so far, but cash prizes are currently awarded. “Everything in life is a gamble; no matter what you do in life, it’s a gamble,” she said.

On April 10, Scott approved HB 155, which had garnered overwhelming support in both the state House of Representatives and Senate.

The governor signed the law after the charity Allied Veterans of the World came under scrutiny for using some Internet cafes to carry on a money laundering and racketeering scheme. The scheme led to the arrest of 57 people and the resignation of Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll, who had done some consulting work for Allied.

The new legislation tightens loopholes by considering a device a slot machine if the machine simulates a game of chance, requires payment to play, and awards something of value.

Slot machines have generally been prohibited in Florida since 1937, although certain facilities in Broward and Miami-Dade counties are authorized to use the machines by constitutional amendment or statute.

After the legislation took effect, many Internet cafes shut their doors. But across the region some resilient establishments are re-opening.

“A lot of these folks are just kind of challenging local law enforcement to stop them,” said Marc Dunbar, an attorney and adjunct professor at Florida State University’s College of Law, where he teaches gaming law. “They (cafe owners) are taking advantage of law enforcement’s lack of willingness to enforce the law.”

According to Dunbar, any game where a patron has the ability to earn or win anything is illegal under the new law.

However, he points out the cost for justice is high. To prove the illegal activity, law enforcement usually must go under cover, seize the computers, pay an expert to analyze the software to determine its legality, and then prove the case in court.

“It’s very expensive to prosecute, and for small communities it’s just not worth it,” Dunbar said. Law enforcement agencies with limited resources might focus on more personal crimes such as robbery, sexual battery and murder.

“A gambling crime is about an activity where, in most incidents, there are no victims,” Dunbar said.

There are three elements that would constitute a gambling crime: paying for Internet minutes, games that are governed by chance rather than skill, and any type of awarded prize.

Assistant State Attorney Mark Simpson has seen only one Internet cafe that is operating in accord with the law. That business does not award prizes.

Simpson, who is also supervisor of the public interest unit, said that in 23 years, this is the only type of business where owners have called him asking if their operation is legal.

“That ought to tell you something right there,” he said.

Prior to the implementation of stricter legislation, Internet cafes sidestepped Florida’s gambling laws by labeling their offerings a “sweepstakes.”

The process was similar to receiving a Monopoly scratch-off card with the purchase of a meal at McDonald’s. The businesses would sell customers Internet time in exchange for a ticket that allowed them to try their hand at games that appeared on the computer screen and looked remarkably similar to a slot machine.

Simpson noted that Internet cafes often ask for ID and do no allow patrons younger than 18 to play. But people don’t need identification to buy a McDonald’s hamburger.

“The whole thing is based on a fallacy,” he said.

Opponents of such businesses have raised concerns about attracting crime to the area.

In July 2012, the Palms cafe made headlines when Duwayne B. Henderson and David G. Dawkins tried to rob the store late one night, only to be injured themselves when a patron opened fire.

Both men are now in prison.

“It was just a fluke,” said Anderson, the current Palms employees, who said she is not scared to work until late at night.

The business has an automatic locked door. “It’s very secure,” she said.

Dunbar points out the businesses can generate a large sum of money for the state treasury if they are taxed properly.

Palms patron Leoma Herman is glad the establishment re-opened and looks forward to getting out of the house to the cafe.

“It’s bad enough getting old,” she said, standing outside the cafe with her husband.

The couple would rather stay local than drive 85 miles to Tampa for the closest casino.

Gilda Sera and husband, Joseph, left the Palms on a recent Tuesday with a smile after an hour and a half of game time won Gilda about $90. She enjoys coming to the cafe for socialization and to get out of the house for a little bit.

“Because of our age,” she said. “There’s not many places we can go.”

Contact April Warren at 867-4065 or april.warren@ocala.com.

Article source: http://www.ocala.com/article/20131107/ARTICLES/131109773