Sweepstakes internet cafes ordered to close, so why are they still open?

Last May, a judge ordered nine internet cafes to shut down their sweepstakes business, calling them casinos. Nearly a year later those cafes are closed, but others are still popping up

BAKERSFIELD, CA - Last May, a judge ordered nine internet cafes to shut down their sweepstakes business, calling them casinos. Nearly a year later those cafes are closed, but others are still popping up.

Deputy District Attorney Greg Pulskamp said it's an ongoing battle because the shops that were shut down are appealing the order. Pulskamp said before they deal with new shops, they must first deal with the old.

"My boss hates that place," said Michael Nejera, who works at Pizzaville. "It just really isn't good for business."

Hot Spot Internet and Cafe moved in a little less than a year ago.

"Like now, we have to have security guards," said Nejera. "It's just really not good for us at all."

Inside, there are games. You buy an item like a soda to get points, then you play the game to see how many points you can earn.

"You could win cash and prizes," said Phillip Walker, owner of Oz Internet Cafe and Hub.

Owners call it 'sweepstakes,' but authorities call it gambling. Whatever it is, the general manager of the car dealership across the street from one said they attract an unsavory crowd.

"I see a lot of fights, disturbances and I've seen quite a few times the police department has shown up," said Gus Garza, General Manager for Auto Planet Superstore.

In May, a judge ordered nine of these businesses to shutdown their sweepstakes, including Phillip Walker's shop, "Oz Internet and Cafe."

"We are still open. We never closed and we will remain open, but we respect the order," said Walker.

Walker and four other owners are appealing the judge's ruling.

"It's never been in court in California so this is the first, I would say, challenge of the sweepstakes laws as they are seen in the sweepstakes cafes," said Walker.

Pulskamp would not speak on camera, but said those court battles are why other cafes like Le Click on Rosedale Highway have remained open. He's too busy handling appeals. But, the District Attorney's office plans to crackdown, hoping to eventually eliminate all sweepstakes shops in Bakersfield.

However, they say it will be at least a few months before they will have time to shut down the other sweepstakes.

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