Wednesday July 22,2015 : CALIFORNIAN CITY ACTS AGAINST INTERNET CAFE GAMBLING
New city ordinance replaces a temporary moratorium on "simulated gambling".
Citing problems with criminal elements around internet cafes that offer "sweepstakes-style" online gambling, the City Council of Fairfield, California has approved a ban on computerised gambling, citing complaints from the public.
The Fairfield City Council approved the new city ordinance at its meeting Tuesday night, prohibiting “simulated gambling devices.”
The new ordinance takes the place of a temporary moratorium on simulated gambling put in place in Fairfield in 2013. That ordinance was set to expire on September 3 this year.
City officials say that many Internet sweepstakes cafes offer gambling games, which mimic the experience of slot and video poker machines.
“Carefully designed to take advantage of state sweepstakes laws and to avoid state antigambling laws and gambling licensing restrictions, these businesses advertise and sell a product – usually Internet time or long-distance telephone minutes – that are of minimal interest to the customer,” officials claim, saying that reports indicate that such establishments appear to have sparked an increase in criminal activity around their locations.
Singling out one cafe – Talk ‘N Win – as an example, officials revealed that the Fairfield police department had responded to 137 calls for service at the location between Oct. 11, 2013 (when the business opened) and March 31, 2015. In the preceding four years there had not been a single call from the area.
Further, there have been at least 3,061 calls for service along the 2400 and 2500 blocks of North Texas Street since Talk ’N Win opened.
Officials claimed that Talk ‘N Win had modified its existing sweepstakes games to include a “game of skill” component, in a “thinly-veiled attempt to evade Assembly Bill 1439,” which prohibits offering or using a sweepstakes promotion through a video monitor to simulate gambling or play gambling games.
Fairfield’s ordinance will not impact traditional video arcades or family amusement centers, provided those businesses do not offer any amount of cash, cash equivalent payout or merchandise more than $100 in value.
Neighbouring California city councils Vacaville and Dixon have both imposed moratoriums on internet cafe gambling.