North Point Internet Café raided
Wednesday, 31 October 2012 11:54

Police make 10 raids across county last week

by Ben Boehl

    The North Point Internet Café was one of 10 internet café/sweepstakes businesses throughout Baltimore County where police found illegal electronic gaming devices, according to a police press release.
    Baltimore County Police, with the support of the U.S. Attorney’s Office and Immigration and Customs Enforcement/Homeland Security Investigation, used search warrants to recover evidence from the North Point Internet Café and the other locations last Wednesday, according to the release.
   

Police said there were no arrests, but the investigation remains open, and so do the cafés.
    “The police did not close them down. We were able to seize evidence without shutting them down,” said Baltimore County police spokesperson Elise Armacost. “So if people see activity at those places, it doesn’t mean that they aren’t open for business. They can remain open.”
    A one-year investigation determined that the Internet cafés possessed illegal electronic gaming devices, according to the police department. The detectives reportedly played the electronic games and received a monetary payout for points they accumulated during those games.
    Armacost said Internet cafes have been around since the beginning of the Internet. Many of them sell snacks and drinks and supply visitors with Internet access, but they have been facing declining numbers nationally with the widespread use of smart phones.    
    According to the Tampa Times, Internet cafés are found across the country, particularly in Florida, where there are over 1,000 in that state.    
    Some venues promote themselves as “Internet sweepstakes cafés.” They are illegal in Florida and Maryland (and elsewhere), and laws against them are now being enforced here in Baltimore County.
    “If these (cafés) want to have pinball machines, it’s allowed if it’s a stimulated machine (and if the businesses pay the county the $1,000 gaming fee). But they cross the line once there is a monetary payout,” Armacost added.