2011 September Community Warning:
Gambling Operations Attempting to Gain Entre as Internet Cafés
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McKenna Associates is advising client communities to be on guard against storefront gambling operations known as “Internet Sweepstakes Cafés” that may try to gain entre to downtowns, strip centers and other commercial districts by filing applications as “Internet Cafés” rather than fully revealing the intended nature of the business and likely use for the space.

True Internet Cafés typically sell food and beverages while providing customers Internet access for a fee. Internet Sweepstakes Cafés operate as storefront gambling houses where the primary business is taking and paying out bets for online gambling sites. In recent months, McKenna planners have come across numerous attempts by Internet Sweepstakes Cafés to gain building permits or certification of occupancy by applying as “Internet Cafés” and not fully disclosing other information.

Though some communities may opt to permit Internet Sweepstakes Cafés, many may deem this use inappropriate for their downtown or other commercial district. Regardless, decision-makers need to be aware of the true intent for use when considering applications. For a checklist of how to identify an Internet Sweepstakes Café application or suggestions on how to regulate this use, contact your McKenna planner or Sarah Traxler at 888.226.4326 or straxler@mcka.com.