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Police: Fresno internet cafe shut down for illegal gambling

Friday, March 15, 2013

The bust happened at a strip mall located at Dakota and Blackstone in Central Fresno. Fresno Police launched an investigation after getting flooded with phone calls from store owners saying the bad business was driving the good business away.

Police say there's an underworld behind what looks like a typical strip mall. Store owners say this Dakota and Blackstone center had no problems, until a few months ago.

"A lot of people out here loitering, just drunk, rowdy," said Robbie Banuelos, Jewelart, an accessories store that's been in business for about 40 years. "Our sales have gone down significantly since this place has opened. We've had customers call us and say they're not coming here anymore they're afraid to be on this side of town."

She, and many others, blame their drop in business on the Quick Stop internet cafe. Police say it offered customers much more than a way to surf the net. Detectives say the room was full of illegal gambling devices -- computers that paid customers in cash.

"They would pay the site manager money, they would then receive a card -- and that card would then be used to participate in gambling. That is a clear violation of the law," said Jerry Dyer, Fresno Police Chief.

Police say undercover officers came here well before they raided it. They posed as customers, and even tried their hand at gambling."

For the past few months Police have gotten more than two dozen phone calls about problems at the internet cafe. Customers complained about not being paid, and reported thefts.

Police arrested the on site manager and a customer who had outstanding warrants. The 29 gambling devices had more than $13-thousand in cash. The devices and the cash are now considered evidence.

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fresno, fresno county, fresno central, local, stephanie stone
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