Gaming Expert Speaks On Internet Cafe Gambling Trend

A gambling expert told the 10News I-Team that playing online is even riskier than one might think.

"It's just a front for a gambling operation. You better believe you're at risk," said gaming expert George Joseph, of Las Vegas.

Joseph said Internet cafes might look like a place to check e-mail or surf the Web, but if you look closer he said, "People are bypassing the law … you can bypass the law and gamble online."

Internet gambling is illegal in California and many other states, but Internet cafes are popping up all over the state. However, the law is catching up to them and busting some of the cafes for illegal, unregulated gaming.

Recently, the San Diego Police raided five Internet cafes and seized 31 video slot machines and $13,000.

So, what is the appeal of illegal gaming? Joseph said players often get a thrill from playing games online illegally. He also added convenience is another reason players would rather go to an Internet café to gamble than play at a local casino -- especially considering many Internet cafes are located in strip malls throughout San Diego.

A bigger draw is the ability to gamble on someone else's computer. The I-Team learned the illegal gambling will be on the café's IP address, not the person who is using it, making it harder to track online activity.

"In a legit casino operation, I have to tax you, pay the kid who spins the ball, the girl who brings drinks, the guy watching on camera," said Joseph.

Joseph said Internet cafes that offer gambling skirt the law.

"Someone else you don't know sends you computer-generated pictures of playing cards he says you have and the playing cards he says he has. Then he tells you whether you lost," said Joseph.

They are not regulated and not paying taxes, which means they could be cheating players and no one would know.

"You're at their mercy," said Joseph.

Joseph said the gambling at Internet cafes will ultimately be legal, and added that it is too tough to crack down on the growing industry.