Sunday, July 31, 2011
Are internet cafes skirting gambling laws?
ROCHESTER, NY -- On a recent weekday afternoon inside a West Main Street storefront, a room filled with folding tables and flat-screen computer monitors has drawn about a dozen people -- all focused on the spinning and flashing images onscreen.
Shades cover the windows and the lights are off, but the sunny day outside still fills the space with light. The digital ding and chime of slot machines and music from an iPod at the front desk set the mood.
This is Megabytes, advertised as an Internet cafe and listed in city records as a retail phone store with Internet access. It opened about seven weeks ago.
Skeptics say it is the equivalent of an unregulated casino, a first in western New York, if not the state, skirting antiquated New York gaming laws as patrons click a mouse instead of pull a lever.
City and state officials have yet to decide.
Elsewhere, the debate over Internet sweepstakes cafes is well under way. North Carolina banned such operations last summer, though separate lawsuits have complicated enforcement. Similar prohibiting legislation has stalled amid legal battles in Florida -- where nearly 1,000 such storefronts reportedly could gross a combined $1 billion this year.
[Go here for the full story.]
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Posted by William M. Dowd at 1:05 PM