Police made several arrests and seized computers and other evidence Wednesday afternoon when they executed a search warrant of a Phoenix Internet cafe on suspicion of illegal gambling, according to police documents.
Authorities said Netclix, an Internet cafe near 35th Avenue and Dunlap Avenue, continued to run an illegal gambling business despite receiving a notice from the Arizona Department of Gaming earlier this month stating its practices were illegal and unregulated.
Bradley John Babinski Jr., 28, of Phoenix was arrested during the execution of the search warrant on suspicion of illegal control of an enterprise through racketeering and three other related illegal gambling charges, according to court records.
Babinski was a manager of Netclix and was on duty when the Arizona Department of Gaming inspected the business and served him a notice on June 10, according to police.
An undercover officer then went back to the business on three separate days after the notice, to find that Netclix was still allowing patrons to illegally gamble on its computers, including when Babinski was on duty, police said.
The undercover officer would pay the employee on duty and have his identification recorded in exchange for a personal-identification number, which would allow him to play casino games and sweepstakes on the computers, according to court documents. Police said these games were played with the expectation that the games would pay out money for winnings.
Police also arrested several customers within Netclix when the warrant was executed, for unrelated warrants or drug violations, police said.
Babinski admitted to inputting patrons' identification information and supervising the business, but said he felt it was the owner's responsibility to make changes in response to the Arizona Department of Gaming notice. He said he was paid in cash for his employment, according to court records.
Babinski was released without bond payment. His first court appearance was scheduled for July 9, according to court records.
The raid took place at NetClicks internet cafe near 35th Avenue and Dunlap.
Agents with Phoenix Police and the Arizona Department of Gaming believe that an employee at the cafe was running an illegal gambling business.
Detectives spent the day removing evidence, including computers.
Tips from the public and work from undercover detectives helped lead to the raid.
The proprietor of an internet café and Western Union outlet at Duncan Street, Campbellville was yesterday morning shot once to his left foot when armed bandits invaded his business and carted off an undisclosed amount of cash.
According to reports, the men, one of whom was armed, had entered the outlet pretending to be customers.
The police said in a press release that around 10.20 am yesterday, two men, one of whom was armed with a handgun, entered an internet café and Western Union outlet at Duncan Street, Georgetown, and held up the proprietor Gordon Nestor, 52, and…to continue reading this article, please subscribe. Already a subscriber ? Sign In.
At about 1020h. today, the police say that two men, one of whom was armed with a handgun, entered an Internet Café and Western Union Outlet at Duncan Street, Georgetown, and held up the proprietor Gordon Nestor, 52 years, and staff member Fernandes Ally, 18 years, of East Ruimveldt, Georgetown, and took away over $400,000.00 and escaped in a waiting motor car.
Nestor was shot to his left foot during the incident and has been admitted to hospital.
Investigations are in progress.
This happened back on May 24th at the Net Clicks cafe near 35th Avenue and Dunlap.
Authorities say the suspect showed an employee a handgun, then demanded money. The victim complied and placed the cash in a bag.
Police say it was an odd place to hold up and they're looking into all possibilities.
"Maybe he had some inside knowledge about what kind of money they had on hand there.. or what kind of money they produce on hand... or maybe he's a former employee," said Phoenix Police Sgt. Derek Elmore.
The suspect is described as a white male in his mid-20s, 5' 9", 140 pounds, with brown hair and green eyes. He was clean shaven with a scar on the top of his head, which police say is a good clue to finding out who he is.
If you have any information about this case, call Silent Witness. You can remain anonymous and receive a cash award for tips leading to an arrest or indictment.
TIP LINE: (480) WITNESS
In the early 2000s, my friends and I couldn’t wait till after school to head to the nearest cyber café, to surf the Web. We couldn’t afford to be left out of the “www” wave that had recently hit Nigeria.
Cyber cafés, with large dishes and tall masts, sprung up and blossomed in major Nigerian cities, and, for us, no distance was too far to satisfy our thirst for the ‘new’ world online. These cyber cafés, then the cream of Nigeria’s entrepreneurial world, created affiliated businesses and employment opportunities and met the longings of the average Nigerian youth.
But they also became the springboard for internet scamming with which Nigeria’s reputation became intrinsically linked. Spending several hours in a cyber café was later to be interpreted to mean one was a yahoo-yahoo, the name for Nigeria’s internet fraudsters who lure and defraud unsuspecting victims through spurious tales of love and fortune.
Today, almost a decade after their heyday, most cyber cafés have either closed shop or converted to other business interests. Only a negligible few—now shrunken—have weathered the storm. They lost relevance due to bad management, inefficient internet service providers, unreliable power supply, and, perhaps most important of all, mobile internet.
In most developed countries cyber cafes were a blip in history as most people soon had relatively satisfactory internet connections in the privacy of their homes. In many Nigeria these were much more important as it opened the rest of the world to us in a way that even satellite television was unable to do.
But mobile phones—and eventually mobile internet on feature phones–changed that very quickly killed off most cyber cafés that once dotted many Nigerian cities. According to the Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC, as at February 2015, Nigeria had 83 million active phone lines with access to mobile internet on their phones. Remember as recently as 2001 there were only about 400,000 fixed telephone lines in the whole country.
One of the reasons for the rapid uptake as well as personal convenience of mobile internet versus going to a public internet café, was also the relative cost.
Browsing at a cyber café cost an average of 100 naira (then about $1) per hour for snail-pace connections. Sometimes just to check one’s email could take forever to open. Mobile internet changed that with faster connections at rates as low as 33 naira ($0.16) daily.
In the early days of basic feature mobile phones, sim cards used cost as much as 25,000 naira (then about $250). Ironically, the rise of the smartphone and its much better functionality coincided with the impact of network competition here. It really helped bring down the cost of connectivity and sim cards today cost as little as 50 naira (0.25 cents) each.
And when you think about it the phones in your hand offers much more internet, telephony, e-commerce, emailing, cloud storage, and social media—at better convenience our once beloved average cyber café ever offered, due to data and security restrictions.
Although broadband penetration in Nigeria is still low at around 8%, versus a 2018 government target of 30%, and many Nigerians still complain about slow and expensive connections–Nigerians are relatively heavy users of everything from social networks to e-commerce.
The mobile internet and Wi-fi might have made life easier but we have cyber cafés to thank for connecting young people like me to the rest of the world for the first time.
An Internet café in Syria reportedly is at the heart of the Islamic State’s operation to lure recruits through social media, Sky News revealed Thursday.
Footage of the café in the ISIS stronghold of Raqqa shows fighters and militants chatting and laughing in the midst of computers.
Those at the café work in shifts according to their nationality, and the time zones of the people they are targeting, Sky News reports.
"ISIS is not stupid, they have educated people who know how to deal with [the] psychology of others, how to deal with the human being,” said Um Asmah, an ISIS defector.
"ISIS have the ability to manipulate the minds of young people. If they can convince foreigners, it is even easier to convince Arabs and Syrians,” she told the station.
As of April, between 16,000 to 17,000 foreigners have traveled to Syria and Iraq to join ISIS, The Associated Press reported, citing an independent estimate.
A case now being considered by the state Supreme Court could have major implications for legal gambling offered by the California lottery, card houses, tribal casinos and sweepstakes operations.
And, oh yes, Internet cafes -- the cause of this legal battle, which are popping up again in Bakersfield after shutting down en masse last year.
The California Supreme Court heard oral arguments May 6 in an appeal of two appellate court rulings that made Internet cafes illegal last year.
In March 2014, the 5th District Court of Appeal in Fresno upheld a Kern County Superior Court judge's decision ordering the cafes to stop operating their games.
In its first ruling, the appeals court found that sweepstakes or Internet cafes that sell Internet time offer "unlawful slot machine"-style gambling.
In its second, the court ruled Internet cafes that sell prepaid telephone cards also offer illegal gambling.
Typically, codes on the telephone cards could be redeemed to play online games. But law enforcement officials had contended cafes sold their customers far more telephone minutes than could ever be reasonably redeemed, and the strategy was merely a screen for illegal gambling.
The state Supreme Court's decision is due within 90 days -- and is expected to be momentous.
"The reason this is going to be such a landmark decision is going to depend on how the court decides to define a gambling device," said Kern County Deputy District Attorney Gregory Pulskamp. "Depending on how the court defines a gambling device, it could have major implications for the California lottery, card houses, tribal casinos as well as legitimate sweepstakes."
In fact, attorneys representing various interests including tribal gaming and the lottery filed a total of six amicus briefs with the state Supreme Court. These are briefs from someone deemed a "friend of the court," offering information pertaining to the case.
The reason for all this, well, interest could be because attorneys for the Internet cafes have questioned a decision in another noteworthy case.
In that case, the court ruled machines that dispense Scratchers tickets for the California Lottery were traditional vending machines, not gambling devices.
DIFFERENCES ON A KEY ISSUE
Attorney John H. Weston of Los Angeles represents appellants Phillip Walker of OZ Internet Cafe and Hub and Kirnpal Grewal of A to Z Cafe.
Weston said the machines in the Scratchers case and the computers used at Internet cafes operated similarly, and like the Scratchers machines, the Internet cafe computers should be considered legal.
"The simplest way to look at it (is) the lottery tickets were pre-printed and inserted in the machines long before any customers got there. The argument is that that's what was being done with our clients' machines," Weston said. "They were all programmed and virtually inserted into the machine long before any patron got there and the patron made a selection and the machine in a virtual way spit out the result."
Pulskamp, who like Weston argued before the state Supreme Court May 6, disagreed.
"What they have now is a very sophisticated network of machines that delivers the entire experience including the element of chance and the element of unpredictability," Pulskamp said. "A lottery ticket, you get your lottery ticket and you walk away. The machine's not involved at all."
The court's ruling should arrive by early August..