BAKERSFIELD - A Bakersfield city council member is pushing for internet cafes to be shut down. A committee meeting is scheduled for Thursday afternoon to determine how the city will challenge the cafes.
Local internet cafes have been under scrutiny since they opened. The District Attorney's office says it's illegal gambling, but cafe owners say, that's not the case.
Councilman Russell Johnson says Bakersfield would be better without the cafes. He plans to share his concerns during a Safe Neighborhoods meeting.
"We're getting multiple complaints, time for the city to do something is here. The question is, what can we do and I'm hoping for more clarity tomorrow so we can find a creative way and try to resolve this," said Johnson.
Owners of the cafes say you earn points playing games, and with those points, you can buy more time or cash them in.
Deputy District Attorney Greg Pulskamp says within a few months, he hopes local internet cafes will be gone.
"Obviously, we're anxious to get this through as much as anybody and we're pushing hard to get it through as quickly as we can, but sometimes things just take a little bit of time in the legal process, and so we have to see it through," said Pulskamp.
Last May, a local judge ordered nine sweepstakes cafes in the city to shut down and five of them appealed.
The District Attorney's office says it's waiting on a decision from the Court of Appeals to determine if the internet cafes are illegal.
But, Pulskamp says these cafes are already operating illegally, offering services you would see in a casino.
"They need to know if they continue to operate, they're exposing themselves to serious liability, both criminal and/or civil liability, which could include jail time as well as penalties or fines in the many tens of thousands of dollars," continued Pulskamp.
The DA's office says the appeals process will last a few more months.