Reporting Anjali Hemphill
RANCHO CORDOVA (CBS13) - Game over for Internet cafes? One city is considering cracking down on the cafes over worries they’re being used for illegal Internet gambling.
City leaders have scheduled an urgent vote Monday to ban all Internet cafes in the city of Rancho Cordova in an effort to fight crime before it happens.
Police raided an Internet cafe in south Sacramento for illegal online gambling recently. It’s something the city of Rancho Cordova is trying to avoid.
“If it brings trouble then kick them out, but if there is no valid reason to ban them, then there is no reason to ban them,” said Rancho Cordova resident Harold Lind.
The city is scheduled to vote tomorrow night to temporarily pull the plug on the cafes because some are concerned these businesses are bad for the neighborhood and are a hot spot for crime.
“What these establishments usually bring in is a lot of drugs, prostitution and a lot of problems and complaints from other business owners and residents,” said Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department Sgt. Ray Duncan.
There are currently no Internet cafes in city limits; however, one cafe has applied for a business permit, which city officials say is prompting the review.
“Business is business; everybody has to work,” said Lind.
But one attorney who represents Internet cafes says Internet cafes are no different than a sweepstakes at McDonald’s.
It’s really hard to discern under the law — under anybody’s interpretation of the current laws of California or other states whether this is gambling or not,” said attorney Mark Reichel.
“I think there are legitimate reasons to be at an Internet cafe,” said resident Herbert Lum.
People who live in Rancho Cordova are on both sides of the fence.
“There are other places that offer free wifi,” said resident Alex Slaughter.
“A lot of people check their email, send business correspondence — those people are gonna have to pay the price for every other illegal activity that goes on there,” said Lum.
If passed, the moratorium will last 45 days while the city studies whether to permanently ban Internet cafes all together.
Several east bay cities, including Antioch and Pittsburg, have already set similar moratoriums.