SUISUN CITY — The Suisun City Council held off telling city staff to create a wider, more specific ordinance stating what Internet cafes can and can’t do in town Tuesday, instead opting to wait until the courts weigh in on whether other cities’ laws on the matter are legal or not.
The council’s primary concern is with those Internet cafes that offer sweepstakes-style gaming, such as those that have shown up in Fairfield and Vacaville. Both towns’ police have stated that the areas around those businesses have seen an increase in criminal activity in the area such as thefts, verbal and physical fights, vandalism, drug sales and use, disturbances and robbery.
Two weeks ago, Suisun council members passed an amendment prohibiting gambling via the use of an electronic device, computer or other means. Council members Mike Segala and Jane Day asked that the council return to take a harder look at what can be done to deal with Internet cafes when it comes to gambling-like activities.
“This is the best step that we can do,” Suisun City Attorney Anthony Taylor said of the last meeting’s action.
Taylor said Internet cafes are a type of business that has been given protection by the courts under the First Amendment. He also said that a comprehensive gaming ordinance may require a vote of the people if it overlaps with the city’s ordinance allowing card clubs.
He told the council that Hayward is presently embroiled in litigation with the owners of Internet cafes in that city over an ordinance that bans all simulated gaming devices that are being used for commercial purposes. Dublin approved a very broad municipal code that bans all Internet sweepstakes cafes that courts may consider has gone too far.
Taylor said neither approach is sufficient to stand against a legal challenge and recommended that the city not take any further steps until the laws concerning municipal authority to regulate such Internet gaming are better settled.
Segala said the ordinance passed two weeks ago showed that Suisun City shows it is concerned about the issue. He further said he wants to wait to see what the courts do.
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