Get Adobe Flash player

Internet Cafe

Internet cafes are illegal but social gaming and mining are different, the owner of Shamrock Social Gaming Mining and the founder of the Internet Cafe Association of California said at a press conference Monday afternoon in southeast Bakersfield.

The event, staged about six weeks after a high court ruling on the topic, was not aimed at contradicting the California Supreme Court, which in June upheld two 2014 appellate court decisions that made Internet cafes illegal, agreeing with those rulings that computers in Internet cafes are examples of an “illegal slot machine.”

In fact, quite the contrary.

“We’re not here to talk about the legality of it, whether it’s legal or not, we’re here to show the public the difference between the sweepstakes café and the new Shamrock social mining,” said Phillip Walker, Internet Cafe Association founder and appellant to the state Supreme Court. He appeared at the news conference alongside Shamrock owner Eric Camerlo.

The differences between the two forms of entertainment, the two men said, are considerable and begin, perhaps, with the lack of a gimmick.

At any of three Shamrock locations opened since April 15, including its newest location at 2190 White Lane — open less than a month — users aren’t asked to purchase Internet time or a telephone card.

Instead, said Camerlo, 24, what visitors are doing is mining for Shamrock coins. Camerlo, who said he started the chain with his own and his family’s money, said Shamrock coins are a new type of virtual currency like Bitcoin, redeemable for cash at two local locations of DCX California Digital Currency Exchange.

How much your visit costs depends on how fast you want to mine. Use just one “core” and the machine deducts a quarter every 10 seconds. Use three cores and the computer works faster — and deducts $1 every eight seconds.

You can monitor your computer’s ”mining“ dashboard as it works through algorithms to ”unlock“ the virtual currency in various blocks established by the administrator of the proprietary software.

Or, as most of a half-dozen visitors did Monday, you can let the mining program work in the background and play flashy games with names like Lucky Lollipops and Kitty Kash and slot machine-style graphics.

“I think it should be legal, myself. It’s something to do,” said retiree Diane Aragon, 67. “You get to be old and there isn’t a lot to do. It’s just entertainment.”

“The whole process of this is just for people to be entertained. There’s no reason for people to believe that they’re gambling because they’re not,” Camerlo said. “It’s a new technology, this digital currency and there’s a million ways of getting digital currency. People are just a little more scared because they don’t know what it is.”

“We don’t know if it’s legal or not. We don’t. We’re just trying to let the people know what the Shamrock coin is about,” added Walker, a former Internet cafe owner, emphasizing he’s not advocating for social gaming or mining.

Members of the Kern County District Attorney's office and the Bakersfield Police Department remain unswayed.

They have said repeatedly these businesses are no different from Internet cafes in the eyes of the law — and just as illegal.

“It’s all semantics at the end of the day,” BPD Sgt. Joe Grubbs, the department spokesman, said. “The California penal code says any game of chance is illegal.”

Kern County Supervising Deputy District Attorney Gregory Pulskamp agreed.

“The fact that it’s not luck, it’s a predetermined computer program, we argued all that. It may be determined, but unknowable to the user,” said Pulskamp, who argued Kern’s case to the high court. “At the end of the day, people are paying money, and through an electrical or mechanical device of some type they’re becoming entitled to win something.”

On Sept. 30, Pulskamp pointed out, Walker and at least four other Internet cafe owners will be back in Kern County Superior Court as their earlier cases return to the lower court. All could face remedy — or civil penalties.

Asked about his pending court date, Walker said: “It’s totally out of my control, out of my hands. I don’t know what they’re going to do.”

 

Article source: http://www.bakersfield.com/news/2015/08/10/social-gaming-different-from-internet-cafes-owner-asserts.html

The internet cafe in Hsinchu where the woman died, Aug. 23. (Photo/CNA)

Police in Taiwan on Sunday urged the public to be more aware of the people around them after a woman's death at an internet cafe went unnoticed for hours.

The 37-year-old woman was found dead Saturday at an internet cafe in the northern city of Hsinchu, according to local police.

A preliminary investigation showed that she died of cardiac arrest, although prosecutors and forensic experts are still confirming the cause of death, the police said.

Police said the woman arrived alone at the cafe late on Friday night. Shortly after her arrival, she leaned against a partition between the seats and stopped moving, apparently because of some discomfort, police said after viewing the cafe's surveillance recording. It was not until Saturday that the night shift employees at the cafe discovered something was wrong and called the police.

The employees on the morning shift believed the woman was just resting, the police said.

Even after the body was removed, the customers at the cafe remained focused on their computer screens, appearing oblivious to the fact that several medical personnel and police were collecting evidence.

"If people were a little more curious, maybe someone would have observed that something was wrong and may have gotten her to hospital in time to save her life," the police said.

Article source: http://www.wantchinatimes.com/news-subclass-cnt.aspx?id=20150824000058&cid=1303

It is easier to locate a gaming parlour than an internet café these days. With widespread 3G connectivity in the country, there are few chances that you are looking for an internet café.

According to a KPMG and IAMAI survey, India’s smartphone penetration is expected to go up to 314 million mobile internet users by 2017, making the country the third largest smart phone market in the world. That should be a wake-up call for internet café users, not that they haven’t realized the inevitability of the changing trends. Most internet cafes have been selling stationery,phone recharge cards, xerox, printers, etc. for some time now to generate revenues, besides also running the café.

LogoLogo

Logo

Funizen, a firm that has seized the opportunity to herd the crowds back into the cafes to play games was started by a Korean, Chris Lee. The company has found takers for changing internet cafes to gaming parlours in Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities so far where it has converted 3,300 cafés. What it does is that it network and ropes in browsing cafes with cafe management and billing solutions and eventually converts them into gaming cafes.

With an over 3,000 network across India in cities as diverse as its population such as Pune, Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata, Coimbatore, Bengaluru and Chennai, Funizen is planning to push its boundaries to other states.

Launched in India in 2008, the company claims to be India’s only online game publishers, besides channeling I-Cafe networking business. Funizen’s Founder and CEO, Lee, who has worked in the gaming divisions of IT firms in Korea and India, decided to go off on his own when he realized that most management of IT firms in India did not pay much attention to the gaming division as, he says,they are not interested in it. Consequently, they were unwilling to make decisions that would enhance the product offerings.

“With internet cafes not getting much traction because of the rapid pace of broadband connection, it is time to think about content that will bring in the people back in to these cafes. The picture has changed in small towns in the country. If you go through gaming cafes in India, you will find that they are overcrowded in Tier 2 towns. According to our survey, the user time in the cafes is over five hours. In contrast, people spent just 29 minutes in browsing cafes where they check emails. Usually, they leave in 10 minutes," informs Lee.

The survey by Funizen shows that 73 percent of browsing cafes would prefer to be gaming cafes and earn more revenues but don't know how to do it. "The young generation does not think twice before spending money for fun. Teenagers are hungry all the time. When a gaming café comes up, a snack joint nearby is inevitable and business can boom. But you need to have vision for that. If you want to go to a gaming café, you have to upgrade your PC. It is one of these problems that shoots up the cost," explains Lee.

Funizen’s Gamemela, the largest e-pin sales site, installs games for the gaming café and provides e pins – a personal identification number which is like cyber currency. As the game arcs to a higher level, e pins can be bought. When more e pins are sold, it translates to higher margins for the café owner.

The company got Series A funding from Korea and US. “We are keen to go for the next round and hope to get $10 million. Two companies in the US and Japan have shown keen interest," says Lee.

With around 11 payment gateways getting RBI approval, it makes it easier for the online game category to access it, says Lee. "You pay just Rs 15 or Rs 20 for a browsing café and a gaming café. For youngsters, that is affordable."

Funizen has also launched a game, Elsword  and conducts gaming tournaments across the country.

The company expects to expand its reach to 20,000 cafes by end of next year. "We attained break-even point in the first half  of the year. By next year we are hopeful of generating  Rs 1 crore in monthly revenues," Lee said.

It is easier to locate a gaming parlour than an internet café these days. With widespread 3G connectivity in the country, there are few chances that you are looking for an internet café.

According to a KPMG and IAMAI survey, India’s smartphone penetration is expected to go up to 314 million mobile internet users by 2017, making the country the third largest smart phone market in the world. That should be a wake-up call for internet café users, not that they haven’t realized the inevitability of the changing trends. Most internet cafes have been selling stationery,phone recharge cards, xerox, printers, etc. for some time now to generate revenues, besides also running the café.

LogoLogo

Logo

A firm that has seized the opportunity to herd the crowds back into the cafes to play games instead is Korean-based Funizen. The company has found takers for changing internet cafes to gaming parlours in Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities so far where it has converted 3,300 cafés. What it does is that it network and ropes in browsing cafes with cafe management and billing solutions and eventually converts them into gaming cafes.

With an over 3,000 network across India in cities as diverse as its population such as Pune, Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata, Coimbatore, Bengaluru and Chennai, Funizen is planning to push its boundaries to other states.

Launched in India in 2008, the company claims to be India’s only online game publishers, besides channeling I-Cafe networking business. Funizen’s Founder and CEO, Chris Lee, who has worked in the gaming divisions of IT firms in Korea and India, decided to go off on his own when he realized that most management of IT firms in India did not pay much attention to the gaming division as, he says,they are not interested in it. Consequently, they were unwilling to make decisions that would enhance the product offerings.

“With internet cafes not getting much traction because of the rapid pace of broadband connection, it is time to think about content that will bring in the people back in to these cafes. The picture has changed in small towns in the country. If you go through gaming cafes in India, you will find that they are overcrowded in Tier 2 towns. According to our survey, the user time in the cafes is over five hours. In contrast, people spent just 29 minutes in browsing cafes where they check emails. Usually, they leave in 10 minutes," informs Lee.

The survey by Funizen shows that 73 percent of browsing cafes would prefer to be gaming cafes and earn more revenues but don't know how to do it. "The young generation does not think twice before spending money for fun. Teenagers are hungry all the time. When a gaming café comes up, a snack joint nearby is inevitable and business can boom. But you need to have vision for that. If you want to go to a gaming café, you have to upgrade your PC. It is one of these problems that shoots up the cost," explains Lee.

Funizen’s Gamemela, the largest e-pin sales site, installs games for the gaming café and provides e pins – a personal identification number which is like cyber currency. As the game arcs to a higher level, e pins can be bought. When more e pins are sold, it translates to higher margins for the café owner.

The company got Series A funding from Korea and US. “We are keen to go for the next round and hope to get $10 million. Two companies in the US and Japan have shown keen interest," says Lee.

With around 11 payment gateways getting RBI approval, it makes it easier for the online game category to access it, says Lee. "You pay just Rs 15 or Rs 20 for a browsing café and a gaming café. For youngsters, that is affordable."

Funizen has also launched a game, Elsword  and conducts gaming tournaments across the country.

The company expects to expand its reach to 20,000 cafes by end of next year. "We attained break-even point in the first half  of the year. By next year we are hopeful of generating  Rs 1 crore in monthly revenues," Lee said.

Police in Urbana are looking for a man who robbed the Internet Café Monday night.

According to a release, officers responded to the business at 686 Scioto Street around 10 p.m. Monday after a man demanded cash from the employees.

Police said the man was wearing a hooded sweatshirt and concealed his face with an ACE bandage. He implied that he was armed before fleeing the store with an undetermined amount of cash.

Two customers were inside the store at the time of the robbery, but no injuries were reported.

Police said they are following up on leads in the case but so far no arrests have been made.

Anyone with information is asked to call Urbana Police.

Article source: http://www.whio.com/news/news/crime-law/man-robs-internet-cafe-in-urbana/nnL34/

A joint state and local Sweepstakes Gambling Task Force that includes the California Attorney General and the Kern County District Attorney's office among its leaders has redoubled its efforts to target Internet cafes following a June victory in the state's highest court.

In a landmark decision June 25, the California Supreme Court upheld two 2014 appellate court decisions that made Internet cafes illegal, agreeing with earlier decisions that computers in Internet cafes are examples of an “illegal slot machine.”

With that ruling in hand, and no appeal of the case in sight, California law enforcement agencies are tightening their squeeze on older-style Internet cafes, newer establishments which utilize online currency in an attempt to skirt the law — and more than a half-dozen companies that sell the computer software to run games.

On July 31, Attorney General Kamala D. Harris announced Capital Sweepstakes Systems Inc., a sweepstakes gambling software provider, had agreed to pay $700,000 in civil penalties and admit to violating state gambling laws, in a case brought by the task force.

The settlement resolved allegations Capital Sweepstakes violated state law governing illegal gambling and unfair competition. According to the terms of the agreement, Capital Sweepstakes is also barred from conducting any sweepstakes operations in California for a decade.

“Capital Sweepstakes profited by targeting low-income communities, misrepresenting their slot-machine style operations as legal enterprises and creating magnets for crime,” Harris said in a statement.

A representative of the Attorney General’s office did not respond to a request for further comment Friday, but Kern County Deputy District Attorney Gregory Pulskamp, who represents the county on the task force, said the high court’s decision was crucial for authorities.

“Our supreme court decision we obtained is a key basis on which that task force is operating. That gives us the green light, really, to go forward now and hold some of these large companies accountable,” said Pulskamp, who successfully argued against the Internet cafe owners’ appeal to the California Supreme Court.

Because negotiations are continuing, Pulskamp declined to identify any of the software makers the task force has met with.

“There are numerous software manufacturers that we are engaged with. Before we have full-blown litigation, we meet with them and their attorneys and try and hash things out, come to terms,” he added.

In Bakersfield, City Attorney Ginny Gennaro said a very few Internet cafes remain open today — “less than a half-dozen, if that” — down from a county-wide high of 25 in the spring of 2014.

Representatives of two of those establishments have said they offer “social gaming” or “mining” using virtual currency, and are not Internet cafes.

Pulskamp continues to disagree.

“It’s still winning money or something of value by chance. Unfortunately, it attracts very unsavory characters and we have a lot of the same problems — vandalism, loitering, violence and drugs,” he said.

Representatives of district attorneys’ offices in Fresno, Sonoma, Merced and San Diego counties confirmed they, too, are task force members but said Kern plays a more active role.

“Kern County is very much in the vanguard, in the forefront of advancing this issue. The problem, it’s a bit more robust in the Central Valley and other regions than it is in San Diego,” said Steve Spinella, a deputy district attorney for San Diego County. “San Diego is a large population center, but it doesn’t necessarily follow demographic centers like that.”

On Thursday morning, a joint task force comprised of around 10 members of Bakersfield Police Department and the Kern County Sheriff’s Office raided Treasure Chest Gaming in northeast Bakersfield, seizing approximately 36 computers and $3,000 in cash.

BPD Sgt. Joe Grubbs said no one was arrested and the business wasn’t closed, but the raid’s purpose was “seeking evidence indicating that there was illegal gaming going on.”

“Our understanding right now is, the state has said this online gaming, this mining, no matter how you do it with the virtual currency, is illegal,” Grubbs added.

But former Internet cafe owner Phillip Walker, who formed the Internet Cafe Association of California and was an appellant to the state supreme court, said the new cafes are different.

Walker praised law enforcement for going after the software manufacturers he said fueled the recent rise in Internet cafes — but defended social gaming and mining businesses.

“I’m going to be setting up a press conference, probably on Monday, where we’re going to go into one of their locations and explain the difference between mining and an Internet café,” Walker said.

“I think any time that there’s a way to get rich quick — and for some of these people, these gambling cafes are a way to get rich quick — it’s going to continue to be in our community regardless of what the court says,” Gennaro said. “He may want to just go explain himself to the Supreme Court or the District Attorney’s office when he gets prosecuted.”

Internet cafes are illegal but social gaming and mining are different, the owner of Shamrock Social Gaming Mining and the founder of the Internet Cafe Association of California said at a press conference Monday afternoon in southeast Bakersfield.

The event, staged about six weeks after a high court ruling on the topic, was not aimed at contradicting the California Supreme Court, which in June upheld two 2014 appellate court decisions that made Internet cafes illegal, agreeing with those rulings that computers in Internet cafes are examples of an “illegal slot machine.”

In fact, quite the contrary.

“We’re not here to talk about the legality of it, whether it’s legal or not, we’re here to show the public the difference between the sweepstakes café and the new Shamrock social mining,” said Phillip Walker, Internet Cafe Association founder and appellant to the state Supreme Court. He appeared at the news conference alongside Shamrock owner Eric Camerlo.

The differences between the two forms of entertainment, the two men said, are considerable and begin, perhaps, with the lack of a gimmick.

At any of three Shamrock locations opened since April 15, including its newest location at 2190 White Lane — open less than a month — users aren’t asked to purchase Internet time or a telephone card.

Instead, said Camerlo, 24, what visitors are doing is mining for Shamrock coins. Camerlo, who said he started the chain with his own and his family’s money, said Shamrock coins are a new type of virtual currency like Bitcoin, redeemable for cash at two local locations of DCX California Digital Currency Exchange.

How much your visit costs depends on how fast you want to mine. Use just one “core” and the machine deducts a quarter every 10 seconds. Use three cores and the computer works faster — and deducts $1 every eight seconds.

You can monitor your computer’s ”mining“ dashboard as it works through algorithms to ”unlock“ the virtual currency in various blocks established by the administrator of the proprietary software.

Or, as most of a half-dozen visitors did Monday, you can let the mining program work in the background and play flashy games with names like Lucky Lollipops and Kitty Kash and slot machine-style graphics.

“I think it should be legal, myself. It’s something to do,” said retiree Diane Aragon, 67. “You get to be old and there isn’t a lot to do. It’s just entertainment.”

“The whole process of this is just for people to be entertained. There’s no reason for people to believe that they’re gambling because they’re not,” Camerlo said. “It’s a new technology, this digital currency and there’s a million ways of getting digital currency. People are just a little more scared because they don’t know what it is.”

“We don’t know if it’s legal or not. We don’t. We’re just trying to let the people know what the Shamrock coin is about,” added Walker, a former Internet cafe owner, emphasizing he’s not advocating for social gaming or mining.

Members of the Kern County District Attorney's office and the Bakersfield Police Department remain unswayed.

They have said repeatedly these businesses are no different from Internet cafes in the eyes of the law — and just as illegal.

“It’s all semantics at the end of the day,” BPD Sgt. Joe Grubbs, the department spokesman, said. “The California penal code says any game of chance is illegal.”

Kern County Supervising Deputy District Attorney Gregory Pulskamp agreed.

“The fact that it’s not luck, it’s a predetermined computer program, we argued all that. It may be determined, but unknowable to the user,” said Pulskamp, who argued Kern’s case to the high court. “At the end of the day, people are paying money, and through an electrical or mechanical device of some type they’re becoming entitled to win something.”

On Sept. 30, Pulskamp pointed out, Walker and at least four other Internet cafe owners will be back in Kern County Superior Court as their earlier cases return to the lower court. All could face remedy — or civil penalties.

Asked about his pending court date, Walker said: “It’s totally out of my control, out of my hands. I don’t know what they’re going to do.”

 

Internet cafes are illegal but social gaming and mining are different, the owner of Shamrock Social Gaming Mining and the founder of the Internet Cafe Association of California said at a press conference Monday afternoon in southeast Bakersfield.

The event, staged about six weeks after a high court ruling on the topic, was not aimed at contradicting the California Supreme Court, which in June upheld two 2014 appellate court decisions that made Internet cafes illegal, agreeing with those rulings that computers in Internet cafes are examples of an “illegal slot machine.”

In fact, quite the contrary.

“We’re not here to talk about the legality of it, whether it’s legal or not, we’re here to show the public the difference between the sweepstakes café and the new Shamrock social mining,” said Phillip Walker, Internet Cafe Association founder and appellant to the state Supreme Court. He appeared at the news conference alongside Shamrock owner Eric Camerlo.

The differences between the two forms of entertainment, the two men said, are considerable and begin, perhaps, with the lack of a gimmick.

At any of three Shamrock locations opened since April 15, including its newest location at 2190 White Lane — open less than a month — users aren’t asked to purchase Internet time or a telephone card.

Instead, said Camerlo, 24, what visitors are doing is mining for Shamrock coins. Camerlo, who said he started the chain with his own and his family’s money, said Shamrock coins are a new type of virtual currency like Bitcoin, redeemable for cash at two local locations of DCX California Digital Currency Exchange.

How much your visit costs depends on how fast you want to mine. Use just one “core” and the machine deducts a quarter every 10 seconds. Use three cores and the computer works faster — and deducts $1 every eight seconds.

You can monitor your computer’s ”mining“ dashboard as it works through algorithms to ”unlock“ the virtual currency in various blocks established by the administrator of the proprietary software.

Or, as most of a half-dozen visitors did Monday, you can let the mining program work in the background and play flashy games with names like Lucky Lollipops and Kitty Kash and slot machine-style graphics.

“I think it should be legal, myself. It’s something to do,” said retiree Diane Aragon, 67. “You get to be old and there isn’t a lot to do. It’s just entertainment.”

“The whole process of this is just for people to be entertained. There’s no reason for people to believe that they’re gambling because they’re not,” Camerlo said. “It’s a new technology, this digital currency and there’s a million ways of getting digital currency. People are just a little more scared because they don’t know what it is.”

“We don’t know if it’s legal or not. We don’t. We’re just trying to let the people know what the Shamrock coin is about,” added Walker, a former Internet cafe owner, emphasizing he’s not advocating for social gaming or mining.

Members of the Kern County District Attorney's office and the Bakersfield Police Department remain unswayed.

They have said repeatedly these businesses are no different from Internet cafes in the eyes of the law — and just as illegal.

“It’s all semantics at the end of the day,” BPD Sgt. Joe Grubbs, the department spokesman, said. “The California penal code says any game of chance is illegal.”

Kern County Supervising Deputy District Attorney Gregory Pulskamp agreed.

“The fact that it’s not luck, it’s a predetermined computer program, we argued all that. It may be determined, but unknowable to the user,” said Pulskamp, who argued Kern’s case to the high court. “At the end of the day, people are paying money, and through an electrical or mechanical device of some type they’re becoming entitled to win something.”

On Sept. 30, Pulskamp pointed out, Walker and at least four other Internet cafe owners will be back in Kern County Superior Court as their earlier cases return to the lower court. All could face remedy — or civil penalties.

Asked about his pending court date, Walker said: “It’s totally out of my control, out of my hands. I don’t know what they’re going to do.”

 

A joint state and local Sweepstakes Gambling Task Force that includes the California Attorney General and the Kern County District Attorney's office among its leaders has redoubled its efforts to target Internet cafes following a June victory in the state's highest court.

In a landmark decision June 25, the California Supreme Court upheld two 2014 appellate court decisions that made Internet cafes illegal, agreeing with earlier decisions that computers in Internet cafes are examples of an “illegal slot machine.”

With that ruling in hand, and no appeal of the case in sight, California law enforcement agencies are tightening their squeeze on older-style Internet cafes, newer establishments which utilize online currency in an attempt to skirt the law — and more than a half-dozen companies that sell the computer software to run games.

On July 31, Attorney General Kamala D. Harris announced Capital Sweepstakes Systems Inc., a sweepstakes gambling software provider, had agreed to pay $700,000 in civil penalties and admit to violating state gambling laws, in a case brought by the task force.

The settlement resolved allegations Capital Sweepstakes violated state law governing illegal gambling and unfair competition. According to the terms of the agreement, Capital Sweepstakes is also barred from conducting any sweepstakes operations in California for a decade.

“Capital Sweepstakes profited by targeting low-income communities, misrepresenting their slot-machine style operations as legal enterprises and creating magnets for crime,” Harris said in a statement.

A representative of the Attorney General’s office did not respond to a request for further comment Friday, but Kern County Deputy District Attorney Gregory Pulskamp, who represents the county on the task force, said the high court’s decision was crucial for authorities.

“Our supreme court decision we obtained is a key basis on which that task force is operating. That gives us the green light, really, to go forward now and hold some of these large companies accountable,” said Pulskamp, who successfully argued against the Internet cafe owners’ appeal to the California Supreme Court.

Because negotiations are continuing, Pulskamp declined to identify any of the software makers the task force has met with.

“There are numerous software manufacturers that we are engaged with. Before we have full-blown litigation, we meet with them and their attorneys and try and hash things out, come to terms,” he added.

In Bakersfield, City Attorney Ginny Gennaro said a very few Internet cafes remain open today — “less than a half-dozen, if that” — down from a county-wide high of 25 in the spring of 2014.

Representatives of two of those establishments have said they offer “social gaming” or “mining” using virtual currency, and are not Internet cafes.

Pulskamp continues to disagree.

“It’s still winning money or something of value by chance. Unfortunately, it attracts very unsavory characters and we have a lot of the same problems — vandalism, loitering, violence and drugs,” he said.

Representatives of district attorneys’ offices in Fresno, Sonoma, Merced and San Diego counties confirmed they, too, are task force members but said Kern plays a more active role.

“Kern County is very much in the vanguard, in the forefront of advancing this issue. The problem, it’s a bit more robust in the Central Valley and other regions than it is in San Diego,” said Steve Spinella, a deputy district attorney for San Diego County. “San Diego is a large population center, but it doesn’t necessarily follow demographic centers like that.”

On Thursday morning, a joint task force comprised of around 10 members of Bakersfield Police Department and the Kern County Sheriff’s Office raided Treasure Chest Gaming in northeast Bakersfield, seizing approximately 36 computers and $3,000 in cash.

BPD Sgt. Joe Grubbs said no one was arrested and the business wasn’t closed, but the raid’s purpose was “seeking evidence indicating that there was illegal gaming going on.”

“Our understanding right now is, the state has said this online gaming, this mining, no matter how you do it with the virtual currency, is illegal,” Grubbs added.

But former Internet cafe owner Phillip Walker, who formed the Internet Cafe Association of California and was an appellant to the state supreme court, said the new cafes are different.

Walker praised law enforcement for going after the software manufacturers he said fueled the recent rise in Internet cafes — but defended social gaming and mining businesses.

“I’m going to be setting up a press conference, probably on Monday, where we’re going to go into one of their locations and explain the difference between mining and an Internet café,” Walker said.

“I think any time that there’s a way to get rich quick — and for some of these people, these gambling cafes are a way to get rich quick — it’s going to continue to be in our community regardless of what the court says,” Gennaro said. “He may want to just go explain himself to the Supreme Court or the District Attorney’s office when he gets prosecuted.”

A joint state and local Sweepstakes Gambling Task Force that includes the California Attorney General and the Kern County District Attorney's office among its leaders has redoubled its efforts to target Internet cafes following a June victory in the state's highest court.

In a landmark decision June 25, the California Supreme Court upheld two 2014 appellate court decisions that made Internet cafes illegal, agreeing with earlier decisions that computers in Internet cafes are examples of an “illegal slot machine.”

With that ruling in hand, and no appeal of the case in sight, California law enforcement agencies are tightening their squeeze on older-style Internet cafes, newer establishments which utilize online currency in an attempt to skirt the law — and more than a half-dozen companies that sell the computer software to run games.

On July 31, Attorney General Kamala D. Harris announced Capital Sweepstakes Systems Inc., a sweepstakes gambling software provider, had agreed to pay $700,000 in civil penalties and admit to violating state gambling laws, in a case brought by the task force.

The settlement resolved allegations Capital Sweepstakes violated state law governing illegal gambling and unfair competition. According to the terms of the agreement, Capital Sweepstakes is also barred from conducting any sweepstakes operations in California for a decade.

“Capital Sweepstakes profited by targeting low-income communities, misrepresenting their slot-machine style operations as legal enterprises and creating magnets for crime,” Harris said in a statement.

A representative of the Attorney General’s office did not respond to a request for further comment Friday, but Kern County Deputy District Attorney Gregory Pulskamp, who represents the county on the task force, said the high court’s decision was crucial for authorities.

“Our supreme court decision we obtained is a key basis on which that task force is operating. That gives us the green light, really, to go forward now and hold some of these large companies accountable,” said Pulskamp, who successfully argued against the Internet cafe owners’ appeal to the California Supreme Court.

Because negotiations are continuing, Pulskamp declined to identify any of the software makers the task force has met with.

“There are numerous software manufacturers that we are engaged with. Before we have full-blown litigation, we meet with them and their attorneys and try and hash things out, come to terms,” he added.

In Bakersfield, City Attorney Ginny Gennaro said a very few Internet cafes remain open today — “less than a half-dozen, if that” — down from a county-wide high of 25 in the spring of 2014.

Representatives of two of those establishments have said they offer “social gaming” or “mining” using virtual currency, and are not Internet cafes.

Pulskamp continues to disagree.

“It’s still winning money or something of value by chance. Unfortunately, it attracts very unsavory characters and we have a lot of the same problems — vandalism, loitering, violence and drugs,” he said.

Representatives of district attorneys’ offices in Fresno, Sonoma, Merced and San Diego counties confirmed they, too, are task force members but said Kern plays a more active role.

“Kern County is very much in the vanguard, in the forefront of advancing this issue. The problem, it’s a bit more robust in the Central Valley and other regions than it is in San Diego,” said Steve Spinella, a deputy district attorney for San Diego County. “San Diego is a large population center, but it doesn’t necessarily follow demographic centers like that.”

On Thursday morning, a joint task force comprised of around 10 members of Bakersfield Police Department and the Kern County Sheriff’s Office raided Treasure Chest Gaming in northeast Bakersfield, seizing approximately 36 computers and $3,000 in cash.

BPD Sgt. Joe Grubbs said no one was arrested and the business wasn’t closed, but the raid’s purpose was “seeking evidence indicating that there was illegal gaming going on.”

“Our understanding right now is, the state has said this online gaming, this mining, no matter how you do it with the virtual currency, is illegal,” Grubbs added.

But former Internet cafe owner Phillip Walker, who formed the Internet Cafe Association of California and was an appellant to the state supreme court, said the new cafes are different.

Walker praised law enforcement for going after the software manufacturers he said fueled the recent rise in Internet cafes — but defended social gaming and mining businesses.

“I’m going to be setting up a press conference, probably on Monday, where we’re going to go into one of their locations and explain the difference between mining and an Internet café,” Walker said.

“I think any time that there’s a way to get rich quick — and for some of these people, these gambling cafes are a way to get rich quick — it’s going to continue to be in our community regardless of what the court says,” Gennaro said. “He may want to just go explain himself to the Supreme Court or the District Attorney’s office when he gets prosecuted.”