Hayward Police Make Arrest at Gambling Business

Police officers investigated the Net Connection gambling business in Hayward last Friday evening, leading to the arrest of an employee for violation of his parole in relation to a traffic ticket.

The city passed a moratorium last Tuesday that would ban the creation of any new online gambling businesses in the city for 45 days. Existing businesses have been issued a cease and desist by the city and have been encouraged to leave, as they are in violation of state and federal law.

After the moratorium expires the city will meet again on April 2 to discuss a possible extension and to analyze how to keep illegal gambling businesses out of Hayward.

“They were here for the business, and that was one of our employees they just took,” a fellow employee said, exasperated.

She did not want to disclose her name, but expressed that she had previous experience with the Alameda County Sherriff’s department. She resents that the city calls their store a “gambling” business.

Another patron was given a citation for carrying a switchblade of an illegal length. Customers who were walking into the business were subject to the wisecracks of Alameda County Deputy Justin Cecil.

“Did you get those pants at church?” Cecil asked a patron entering the business with torn up jeans. “Because those are some ‘hole-y’ pants!” he added, drawing laughter from the other officers.

Police have not conducted similar actions at the other gambling business in Hayward, I-Biz, located off of Mission Street. Elie Goldstein, the owner of neighboring business Kraski’s Nutrition, said that while the patrons of that business still smoke illegal substances outside of his shop, the police have not visited the business.

“If I call them, they will,” Goldstein said of the police, laughing. He is not aware if the city has done anything since the passing of the moratorium.

“They’ve issued cease and desist letters to them, but that’s it,” he said.

Hayward City Attorney Michael Lawson said the city is working with the businesses to make them leave the city.

“The city is in the process of communicating with those businesses as to why they are not in compliance with either the moratorium or state law,” said Lawson. “My office is working with the police department and other city departments and we’re also communicating to the legal representatives of these two businesses.”

Lawson intimated that the city has been working with the landlords to determine whether or not these businesses, which maintain that they are “internet cafes,” are in compliance with the provisions of their lease. He could not comment on any police actions.

Ron Doyle, owner of Net Connection, stated last week that his business is an “internet café,” and not a gambling business. He argues that he  sells computer time to customers, and that if they choose to spend that time gambling, that is not his responsibility.

Doyle emphatically stated the game his business runs, sweepstakes, is not gambling. Gambling would require that the results be determined by the random generation of numbers to decide whether or not the patrons win more money.

Whether or not a customer wins, Doyle says, is predetermined when they buy their computer time.

Doyle compared his sweepstakes games to the monopoly game McDonalds plays for cash prizes. He doesn’t understand why the city sees his business as gambling.

Hayward Police Officer Sgt. Eric Krimm said that he wasn’t familiar with the incident. He said that while the police work to combat illegal activities in Hayward, what happened was not indicative of any tactics the city is using to encourage the businesses to leave.

Alameda County Sherriff Spokesperson Sgt. J.D. Nelson said that the county does not bear responsibility for the incident, and their officer was present on behalf of the city’s police department.