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Albany commission votes to extend moratoriums on Internet cafes and event centers

The moratorium only pertains to the issuance of new licenses and permits, officials say.

ALBANY — Waiting in hopes that state legislators will overcome last year’s hurdles on a statewide ban of Internet cafes, the Albany City Commission voted tentatively Tuesday to extend its ban on issuing new licenses or permits to organizations that the city’s attorney said were de facto gambling operations.

The city currently has a moratorium on Internet cafes, but that resolution is set to expire next week, City Attorney Nathan Davis said.

The board put a temporary halt on the startup of any new organizations last year after learning that the Georgia General Assembly had plans to tackle the matter when it convened in January. But when Gov. Nathan Deal failed to sign the bill into law when the session ended, the city found itself back at square one, Davis said.

“What we’re doing is hoping that the Legislature will move forward. ... They passed something (last session) but it didn’t get enacted in 2011, so we’re hoping this legislative session will pass something the governor will approve of and there’ll be a state law we can enforce down here.”

Internet cafes teeter on the line between outright gambling organizations — which are illegal in Georgia — and legitimate companies that allow access to the Internet by way of computer terminals by selling patrons time on the computers on the premises, which are set to go to Internet gambling sites.

In August, Deal announced a partnership with the state attorney general’s office and local law enforcement to crack down on the so-called cafes.

“Today we’re coming together to send a clear message to an illegal gaming industry and the concerned communities throughout the state of Georgia,” Deal said in an Aug. 18 press conference at the Capitol. “Our state law prohibits gambling. The code is black and white on that issue.”

Davis shares that opinion.

“Well, the Internet cafes, in my opinion, appear to be gambling and violate Georgia’s gambling statute,” the city attorney said.

The commission also tentatively voted to put a moratorium on the proliferation of so-called event centers, which some on the commission believe are just a ruse to get around city and state alcohol ordinances.

“Event centers have become an issue with the commission and the community, and so now we’re looking into regulating them, banning them or whatever,” Davis said. “It seems some of them had alcohol present when they’re not licensed, overparking, noise issues and just general public safety (concerns).”

There is no state law that defines event centers in the context of having the ability to serve alcohol. If they were conference centers, for example, they could host events where alcohol is served or sold, but the caterer hosting the event would have to be properly permitted and licensed. On the other hand, if they were bars, they’d have to have a permit themselves and limit the age of occupants to those above the age of 18.

“I think that’s really where the rub is. State law just doesn’t really identify event centers and how we should treat them,” Davis said.

YouTube video

Davis speaks to city moratoriums

Comments

Jack_Frost 2 years, 7 months ago

This is idiotic. Those using internet cafes for gambling are guilty of a crime, but is the cafe owner? Hardly. They're nothing more than places where folks who don't have computers can access the internet and have a drink or snack while doing it. After all, libraries have restrictions on time, refreshments, and where you can go on the net....and some of those sites aren't gambling sites after all.
Just another example of the government telling people what to do. Heaven forbid we permit a profitable business here in the Bad Life City!

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KaosinAlbany 2 years, 7 months ago

I have to disagree with Jack_Frost. The internet cafes and event centers are a BIG problem. I believe there was also a gang fight at one of the event centers a few months ago when a gang just crashed the party and started fighting with everyone, correct me if I am wrong. I saw a clip of a video from the T'ville internet cafe after it was busted and one woman went of camera and admitted she was gambling. Thank you, city leaders, for voting to extend the moratoriums.

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whattheheck 2 years, 7 months ago

The intent of internet cafes is gambling and the event centers are hot beds of drugs and underage drinking with shootings well into the AM the result in some cases. We don't need them or want them.

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J.D._Sumner 2 years, 7 months ago

Take a look at this news report from Florida on what they're doing there. This was in Pinellas, Fla.

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KaosinAlbany 2 years, 7 months ago

Very interesting... thanks J.D.

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LindsE 2 years, 7 months ago

Is that supposed to be an accent mark on the e in cafe or do we just not know how to use apostrophes appropriately?

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justme 2 years, 7 months ago

What are y'all going to cry about when the casino's get to Georgia.

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Moe 2 years, 7 months ago

I'm glad we don't have gambling in Georgia (except the lottery) and I'm glad we don't have a City Attorney who breaks the rules (except when he brings a firearm to work).

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Justice4Moma 2 years, 7 months ago

Moe,that is to say that is the only laws you know of that he has broken.The Good ole boy System aint stupid.They know how to hide things.And if you think not,then you must know something the rest of us dont.

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gapeachone 2 years, 7 months ago

Jack Frost said it all......Albany, at least try to come into the last part of the 20th century, 'cause we are in the 21st......

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Albanite 2 years, 7 months ago

This just shows the stupidity and lack of basic common sense on the commission. Most people just go to McDonalds or Wendy's and use their wifi to access gambling and other sites. If the commission is serious, they need to shut down all the Wendy's, McDonald's, Krystal's and other fast-food joints - along with every hotel and motel in town. Also, kids are accessing gambling sites through wi-fi at the schools, so the commission needs to shut those down also. Otherwise, its like locking your backdoor while leaving your front door and all your windows wide open.

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