Albany City Commission approves moratorium on internet cafes
The city is waiting before awarding any more business licenses to internet sweepstakes businesses, also called internet cafes, until they know what the state considers "legal" gaming.
"The main concern is we wouldn't want to be giving out an occupation tax certificate for a business that may be illegal," says City Attorney Nathan Davis.
And while some things in the Georgia statute may clarify what illegal gaming is...
"We don't allow in Georgia what I will call "payoffs" to be made in cash, there's certain limits on what the prizes can be, the games that are approved have to involve skill," said Davis.
Captain Craig Dodd with the Dougherty County Sheriff's Office says parts can be confusing.
"If it's a gambling device, it's illegal. If it's a device for entertainment, then it's not. And that's always been the argument," says Capt. Dodd.
The internet cafe on North Slappey Boulevard, K&A Internet Access and Sweepstakes, would not let our cameras film inside. There were tables on each side of the wall lined with computers and most of those computers were set to gambling websites.
"Now with the internet sweepstakes, it involves something of a lottery type thing, similar to McDonald's scratch offs, that sort of thing," says Capt. Dodd.
But the term "internet cafe" can be a bit misleading. Dodd says the stores will often push the gambling rather than surfing the internet.
"Generally they give you the odds on what each one of the games are and how to play the games, etc. But they don't suggest you that you go over and start looking up plant life in Bolivia."
The moratorium will last 120 days, but it can be extended if needed. If the gaming going on in Albany is legal, then they'll decide if and how it should be regulated by the city.
There are four internet cafe's in Albany.