The state of California continues to crack down on internet cafes that are providing illegal internet gaming to their patrons. The city of Tracey is the latest area of the state where police raided establishments and made seizures and arrests.
Police confiscated roughly 100 computers after raiding Computer Crazy Internet Café following a multi-agency investigation. The café was investigated for four months and authorities managed to gather enough evidence to gain warrants and raid the property.
Reports of suspicious behaviour around the café by local businesses prompted authorities to take a closer look at the café. Police then established a sting that produced evidence that illegal gaming offenses were being committed.
Tracy Police Dept. Sgt. Alex Neicu said that the illegal gaming activities were all that was going on at the café, and stated that the business had no legitimate non-gambling use. The name of the café owner has not been released but authorities did seize 50 computers from his home as well as $65,000 in cash.
The Tracy Police Dept were joined by the California Department of Justice, the Department of Homeland Security, the Employment Development District Office, and the Department of Industrial Relations. Neicu explained that Homeland Security was called in to trace the finances of the café.
Other Internet Café raids in the state have occurred in Manteca, Lodi, Stockton, and Modesto. The crackdown began in July of 2012 when Bakersfield's District Attorney office served nine local cafes with a cease and desist order.
Since Black Friday internet cafes have been popping up across the nation providing gamblers a place to gamble disguised as sweepstakes. Illegal internet cafes can pay fines of $2500 for every guilty infraction, which could total hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines for any cafes that have been in operation for longer than only a few weeks.
The ease of internet gambling provides enough players for these cafes to operate profitable illegal businesses while California establishes its position on online gaming. The state has one of the biggest demographics of gamers in the world.
Other raids have occurred in Florida, Georgia, Utah, and in some Asian countries. Until recently penalties were not strong enough to stop the café owners from continuing to operate as they considered the fines to be part of the cost of doing business.
The number of new cafes is now on the decrease, but many still remain in operation undetected. The only chance authorities have of stomping out these establishments might be for the state to establish their own internet gaming industry so that players have better options.
The most recent draft bill to legalize online poker in the state has been introduced by a collaboration of eight of the state’s native tribes. The bill only includes online poker, which represents the lion’s share of the online gaming action in which state players participate.
The bill has a lot of support and is expected to pass, giving exclusive rights to online poker licenses to tribal groups and established card rooms that were in operation for at least five years prior to the law passing.