Hayward Internet Cafes Ready To Battle City Hall

Slot gambling is legal in the state of California, and the Legislature is seeking to regulate online gambling, but that does not mean the state is fully supportive of gambling. Internet cafes have become the target for many areas of the state, the latest of which to tackle the issue is the city of Hayward.

City leaders are looking to put an end to Internet cafes in Hayward. The city has become a hotspot for cafes that offer Internet time that can be parlayed into playing slot-type games on computer screens. The type of gambling has become popular throughout the US, but has lawmakers up in arms about the legality of the activity.

“These are Internet gambling sites,” said Alameda County Supervisor Wilma Chan. “We have an advisory from the state Gambling Control that says that these facilities are illegal Internet gambling. And if you look in there, everyone is doing online gambling. It’s very clear that these are gambling sites.”

What may be very clear to Chan, is not as clear to the owners of these Internet cafes, many of which contend that they followed all the local and state rules regarding opening their facilities.

“This is a legitimate business, operating in a legitimate fashion, using legitimate software,” said Net Connection L.L.C. Executive Ron Doyle. “We’re not breaking any laws and they keep messing with us.”

The line between legal and illegal gambling has been a gray area for many law enforcement officials. California has legalized casinos, and a state lottery. Lawmakers are considering regulating online poker, something Nevada and Delaware have already done.

The Internet cafe owners feel like they are being unfairly targeted. Many point to the idea that lawmakers want gambling funds running through regulated California casinos. Doyle, for one, is not happy with the way local leaders are operating in their attempt to get rid of the Internet cafes.

“They’re acting like big bullies,” said Doyle. “I don’t respond well to big bullies.”

Hayward officials are targeting the Internet cafes that offer cash prizes in exchange for winning tickets from the computer games.

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