FAIRFIELD — The City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to impose a 45-day moratorium prohibiting the issuance of permits, licenses or approvals for new computer gaming and Internet-access businesses.
The moratorium includes an outright ban on cybercafes that offer sweepstakes gaming.
During the 45 days, city staff will research cybercafes in other cities and prepare regulations for a permanent ordinance. It has been determined by the California Bureau of Gambling Control that these “cafes” are considered illegal gambling operations if the Internet cafe sells time or phone cards along with promotional sweepstakes allowing customers to play games with gambling themes for cash prizes.
“It’s a growing issue in the state of California,” said Brian Miller, an associate planner for the city. Miller said the games give the operation a “casino environment.”
Even with Internet cafes not deemed illegal, problems such as loitering, drug sales, vandalism and assault have occurred, according to staff reports presented to the City Council.
Councilwoman Catherine Moy, who participated in the meeting via phone, noted the close proximity of a cybercafe to Fairfield High School.
“That concerns me,” she said. “Young people are being targeted for this stuff.”
Two cybercafes in Fairfield – one since closed – kept the Fairfield Police Department busy in both 2012 and 2013, according to city reports. Talk N’ Win, located on North Texas Street, has logged 35 incidents that include theft plus verbal and physical fights, according to city reports.
Police raided Cyber Boss in October 2012, not too long after it opened in March of the same year. Police responded to incidents 21 times in that time frame, city staff reported. It closed later the same year.
State law requires that the city present a report no fewer than 10 days before the expiration of the temporary ordinance. The interim ordinance can then be renewed for an additional 10 months, 15 days and then another year for a total of two years.
Reach Susan Winlow at 427-6955 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/swinlowdr.