Moratorium passed on Internet Cafés - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Moratorium passed on Internet Cafés

Albany City Commissioners unanimously passed a 120 day moratorium on Internet Sweepstakes Cafés.

"The machines appear to operate off of a software program with no skill involved, so there's a question on whether it violates the state law," said City Attorney Nathan Davis.

This means new Internet Cafés will not be issued business licenses until the moratorium is lifted.

"A moratorium will give a more in depth look at how these businesses operate and we'll see if the legislature passes a new law in this area," said Davis.

Internet Cafes started springing up around Georgia in the last few years.  Supporters insist they're legal, but critics aren't so sure.

"Even the machines that we had before that have been outlawed, even those are illegal. So if those are illegal, it seems to make sense that if you're doing it online and doing it in the state of Georgia it's illegal," said City Manager James Taylor.

We decided to stop at a local Internet Café in South Albany.

The people inside were not happy to see us and when we asked workers to explain the nature of their business this was the only response we received.

"You pay internet time and then you go online, whether you go online to do your work or play a game it's up to you. That's what you call it, gambling. We don't call it gambling. It's not gambling," said the Internet Café Owner.

"If you give them money, then you make money or lose it in the process then it appears to be gambling. If that's the case, we need a decision from the state of Georgia whether or not that's legal," said Taylor.

Officials hope after the 120 days they'll be able to draft an ordinance to regulate enforcement and monitor activities at Internet Cafés.

We stopped by another Internet café in Albany, the owner wasn't available, but his next door neighbor said she's under the impression that college students come by to do their homework.

Internet Cafés that are already open will be able to still operate and will not be affected by the moratorium.

 

Copyright 2011 WALB.  All rights reserved.

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