Mixed reaction to sweepstakes cafe closures in Kern County

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) It was a strong statement issued from the Kern County District Attorney's Office on Monday: Immediately cease and desist all gambling activity by March 21.

The county prosecutor sent a letter to all Internet gaming cafes. It was the latest step in an ongoing legal battle over the sweepstakes cafes and what the government claims - and the courts agreed - were illegal gambling services.

Two years ago, the District Attorney's Office filed civil lawsuits against the cafes. Kern County Superior Court Judge William Palmer agreed that the cafes provided illegal gambling, but the businesses - I-zone Internet Cafe, Oz Internet Cafe and Hub, and the A to Z Cafe - appealed the ruling.

Earlier this month, the Fifth Appellate District Court in Fresno found in favor of the county, and the county was given the ammunition to shut down the gaming operations.

By Tuesday, most of the sweepstakes cafes around Bakersfield were shut down.

Reaction in the public was mixed to the closures.

"I'm very pleased it's been taken care of," Vincent Alva said.

He is a technician at CPR Cell Phone Repair service, which is located in a shopping center on Oak Street. Alva reminded why the cafe's traffic was a problem.

"Young female customers would come in (to my business) with children, and they didn't want to be bothered by someone saying, 'Oh, can I have a few bucks,'" Alva described.

Not everyone was joyful over the decision to closed the sweepstakes cafes.

"I think that this is a ploy by the sheriff's office to ruin nightlife in Bakersfield. This is a great resource for people who don't know how to use this Internet," expressed Valerie Green.