Fresno police say internet cafe doubled as gambling house

FRESNO, Calif.

The signs outside "Biz Center" say you can use Wi-Fi, make copies, even pay your bills. But police say none of those services were ever used and what happened behind those doors is not only rare, but illegal.

It took a few hours for these undercover cops to move what is now considered evidence out of the "Biz Center" and into a Fresno Police truck.

Those same officers have been investigating the internet café for months. Some have gambled, some have lost, some have won, but regardless of the payout their conclusion was the same.

Fresno Police Sgt. Curt Chastain said, "Our investigation showed everyone in there was gambling."

He says that type of gambling is illegal in California unless you're at an Indian casino. Police say this internet cafe's popularity was in fact spreading to the reservations. Customers told police they heard they could save themselves the drive and try their hands in Central Fresno.

Chastain said, "The only difference is that it's being played on a computer terminal, like a video poker game."

The internet café opened up in May and since then, police have gotten phone calls from nearly every other business in the center. "They reported drug dealing, prostitution, we've had an increase of robberies, people coming here to gamble have been robbed as they're going out."

The manager of the nearby Advance America center tells Action News when the café opened, he started worrying about his own customers.

Robbie Matthews is the manager of Advance America and said, "They're our main priority, our customers, we've had multiple customers come in and ask what's going on outside, they would stay in their cars until certain people would walk away and then come inside and tell us that."

Police now say they'll be following the paper trail, tracking down the owner and counting up the profits which they believe were lucrative.

Police did a similar raid on another internet café back in March and say the profits in that case were up to $10 thousand a day. That case is now at the District Attorney's Office.

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