Hayward looks to shut down Internet gambling cafes

February 19, 2013 8:33:57 PM PST
The city of Hayward is moving to shut down Internet cafes that let users win cash prizes. Critics say they're nothing more than thinly-disguised gambling houses.

The most recent move to stop Internet gambling will happen on Tuesday night. One caf? owner that we spoke to said he did everything right when he applied for the permits before he opened his business and those looking to shut him down should know he's not afraid to fight city hall.

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

Doyle is fighting a war on two fronts. He owns and operates Net Connection in San Lorenzo and Net Connection in Hayward. Both stores have been ordered to shut down by Alameda County and Hayward city officials. They accuse his caf?'s of selling Internet access to games offering cash prizes which they call gambling. But Doyle says it's nothing more than simple family entertainment.

"This is not what these are. These are Internet gambling sites," said Alameda County Supervisor Wilma Chan. She said the sweepstakes his Internet caf?'s provide skirt gambling laws and are illegal, end of story. "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."

There were three sweepstakes caf?'s in Hayward, but only two remain. Worldnet Business Center on Vermont Street has shut down. I-Biz on Maple Court and Net Connection are the sole survivors. The Hayward City Council is considering an emergency moratorium to prohibit these kinds of cafes from remaining open until the matter is settled. But Doyle says he's not going down without a fight.

"They're acting like big bullies, I don't respond well to big bullies," said Doyle.

The council will meet at 7 p.m. and several residents are expected to speak out on the Internet caf? issue including Ron Doyle and his attorney.


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