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Thread: Internet cafes

  1. #1
    NIMBY asshatterer Plus Richmond Jake's avatar
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    Internet cafes

    It was bound to happen. I got a call this afternoon from a person that wants to open an internet cafe for the purpose of on-line gambling. I told her our zoning ordinance is silent on the matter, it's probably not a land use issue if beverages and meals are served, and she should contact local law enforcement to see if it's allowed. I know in this part of Florida they've been opening and subsequently being closed by law enforcement agencies on a regular basis.

    So, how do your jurisdictions handle this use?

  2. #2
    OH....IO Hink's avatar
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    Moratorium until the State decides if they are legal or not. My general opinion is that they are gambling. If your state allows casinos, then they are acceptable. If they don't, then they should be banned.
    A common mistake people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools. -Douglas Adams

  3. #3
    Cyburbian hilldweller's avatar
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    I guess it was a natural evolution from the penny arcades you guys have down there.

    Remember the old internet cafes from the 90s?

  4. #4
    Cyburbian Streck's avatar
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    We do not have "Internet Cafe" as an allowable Use.

    We do not have "On-line Gambling" as an allowable Use.

    We have "Cafeterias" as an allowable use under C-1 et al.

    We would allow the "Internet Cafe" as a type of Cafeteria.

    Our permit process automatically circulates applications to the City Police Dept (et al) for comment prior to approval. It is possible the Police Department would recommend disapproval based on their legal criteria or provide other advice.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian Tide's avatar
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    Tons of discussion here in NC as what to do with internet sweepstakes (aka internet cafes).

    http://canons.sog.unc.edu/?p=6577

    "This leaves us with the question of the scope of permissible land use regulations of these businesses..... So for the foreseeable future we have to rely on general land use law principles as a guide to what can be done."
    @GigCityPlanner

  6. #6
    No offense meant here. But talk about a use guaranteed to make neighbors storm city hall.

    Collectively, the threads on land use make distinctions between tea shops and coffee shops. And we can't ban these things outright?

    Don't most zoning ordinances prohibit gambling in more or less any type of use? Or only allow it by special permit?

  7. #7
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by hilldweller View post
    Remember the old internet cafes from the 90s?
    That was the first thing I thought when I read the title. I don't know why, but I was thinking about them a couple days ago. With the proliferation of wi-wi and computers with internet access in libraries, are there any of the old style internet cafes still around?
    Anyone want to adopt a dog?

  8. #8
    Cyburbian Tide's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Gotta Speakup View post
    No offense meant here. But talk about a use guaranteed to make neighbors storm city hall.
    Nah, I can think of about a dozen worse: tattoo parlor, bar, gentlemen's club, bowling alley, car wash, hookabar
    @GigCityPlanner

  9. #9
    Cyburbian dw914er's avatar
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    I've seen a few cities group internet cafes with arcades and billard halls, which seemed to make sense. Gambling isn't allowed here though.
    And that concludes staff’s presentation...

  10. #10
    Cyburbian Raf's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Tide View post
    Tons of discussion here in NC as what to do with internet sweepstakes (aka internet cafes).

    http://canons.sog.unc.edu/?p=6577

    "This leaves us with the question of the scope of permissible land use regulations of these businesses..... So for the foreseeable future we have to rely on general land use law principles as a guide to what can be done."
    Funny. We just approved one in my muni today. To me it's gambling and a form of blight, but since it is so far legal here in the state, and the closest use was "amusement services" as mentioned by DW, we permitted it, after of course a vetting from the City Attorney and PD.

    Just another form of wasting money down the toilet, but hey at least it is not another smoke shop
    Men do dumb $hit... it is what they do to correct the problem that counts.

  11. #11
    NIMBY asshatterer Plus Richmond Jake's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Tide View post
    ......... internet sweepstakes (aka internet cafes).

    http://canons.sog.unc.edu/?p=6577

    "This leaves us with the question of the scope of permissible land use regulations of these businesses..... So for the foreseeable future we have to rely on general land use law principles as a guide to what can be done."
    That's what the caller described the use. In my ignorance, I asked what exactly is an "internet sweepstakes" cafe. It became clear to me it is gambling.

    But for the life of me, notwithstanding Mr. Owens analysis, I just can't believe this is a land use/planning issue. Am I missing something?

    And thanks for the link.

  12. #12
    Cyburbian Tide's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Richmond Jake View post
    That's what the caller described the use. In my ignorance, I asked what exactly is an "internet sweepstakes" cafe. It became clear to me it is gambling.

    But for the life of me, notwithstanding Mr. Owens analysis, I just can't believe this is a land use/planning issue. Am I missing something?

    And thanks for the link.
    In NC it is a land use issue because "internet sweeps" are permitted by statewide legislation. Most cities/counties develop local regulations that usually treat them as conditional uses with the typical conditions you would see for a gentlemen's' club. I don't mine them. I never see cars parked outside of them. Most places I see them are dying strip malls. Never been in one, but maybe I need to do some research.
    @GigCityPlanner

  13. #13
    Cyburbian hilldweller's avatar
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    MA is trying to ban them:
    http://www.masslive.com/politics/ind...yber_cafe.html

    Joseph M. Kelly, a professor of business law at State College in Buffalo, N. Y. who has studied the cafes, said the establishments are proliferating throughout the nation, especially in Florida, where there are up to 1,400 cafes, usually in strip malls.

    Kelly said the cafes operate in a gray area of the law, because people can enter the games for free when they buy Internet time. Gambling usually involves paying something of value such as money for a chance to win a prize.

  14. #14
    Cyburbian Tide's avatar
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    Excerpt from NC Planning ListServe: "A couple of years ago the Town of Troutman decided to prohibit sweepstakes for a handful of reasons (most of which dealt with the size of the Town, but also because of a “criminal element” associated with these uses at the time). Recently, I’ve had a gentleman pointed me to this article that says 80% of players are women."

    http://www.charlotteobserver.com/201...buoyed-by.html
    @GigCityPlanner

  15. #15
    Cyburbian Streck's avatar
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    Here is a view inside an Internet Cafe and info about an incident:

    http://www.ijreview.com/2012/07/1074...internet-cafe/

  16. #16
    Cyburbian developmentguru's avatar
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    We allow these under the category of "game/pool hall" in certain general - to heavy- commercial districts. And, we have been OVERRUN with these....many just over the course of the last six months! I had never even heard of the internet sweepstakes, and would have never guessed it would be so popular.
    "In our profession, a plan that everyone dislikes for different reasons is a success. A plan everyone dislikes for the same reason is a failure. And a plan that everyone likes for the same reason is an act of God." - Richard Carson

  17. #17
    Cyburbian SW MI Planner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by developmentguru View post
    We allow these under the category of "game/pool hall" in certain general - to heavy- commercial districts. And, we have been OVERRUN with these....many just over the course of the last six months! I had never even heard of the internet sweepstakes, and would have never guessed it would be so popular.
    Our ordinance simply allows as a permitted use in a few commercial districts "indoor amusement and recreation" so this is where they would be allowed. I like that this statement is all inclusive - pool/game halls, bowling alleys, bounce houses, etc. but because it is so comprehensive, it would also allow the internet cafe.

    I do kind of agree with RJ though, should this be a zoning issue? Isn't a bunch of computers lined up for internet access essentially the same as a library? I'm not sure zoning should regulate *what* they do on-line.

  18. #18
    Chairman of the bored Maister's avatar
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    We had an on-line internet gaming 'cafe' that tried to make a go of it, but ended up going belly up after less than 90 days. After vetting it through our attorney, we classified the use like many other commities have as 'indoor recreation'.
    Quote Originally posted by SW MI Planner
    I do kind of agree with RJ though, should this be a zoning issue? Isn't a bunch of computers lined up for internet access essentially the same as a library? I'm not sure zoning should regulate *what* they do on-line.
    What if an applicant came in with a proposal for the exact same number of computers for internet access....but with each computer having it's own small 'private room'?
    People will miss that it once meant something to be Southern or Midwestern. It doesn't mean much now, except for the climate. The question, “Where are you from?” doesn't lead to anything odd or interesting. They live somewhere near a Gap store, and what else do you need to know? - Garrison Keillor

  19. #19
    Cyburbian SW MI Planner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Maister View post
    We had an on-line internet gaming 'cafe' that tried to make a go of it, but ended up going belly up after less than 90 days. After vetting it through our attorney, we classified the use like many other commities have as 'indoor recreation'.


    What if an applicant came in with a proposal for the exact same number of computers for internet access....but with each computer having it's own small 'private room'?
    Not sure if they were in an open room, cubicles, or small room would matter? Maybe I am thinking too simplistically about it though....

  20. #20
    Chairman of the bored Maister's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by SW MI Planner View post
    Not sure if they were in an open room, cubicles, or small room would matter? Maybe I am thinking too simplistically about it though....
    From a land use standpoint it shouldn't make much difference at all whether the computers are in an open room or private viewing room. From a purely land use perspective the only question is how many monitors for customers and how many employees to help figure out parking....BUT I bet you'd find any 'internet cafe' offering private viewing rooms is going raise hackles about whether or not this is an adult regulated use. My guess is their average clientele would be 16 year old males with brawny forearms and calloused palms.
    People will miss that it once meant something to be Southern or Midwestern. It doesn't mean much now, except for the climate. The question, “Where are you from?” doesn't lead to anything odd or interesting. They live somewhere near a Gap store, and what else do you need to know? - Garrison Keillor

  21. #21
    Cyburbian Streck's avatar
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    In our jurisdiction we do not have the term Internet Cafe listed as one of the Allowed Uses.

    We would ask the applicant to explain the Use in writing as part of his Application, and provide a Floor Plan and Site Plan as part of his Building Permit or Business Permit Application. This might not even come before our Planning Commission if it does not involve a Re-Zoning Application or a new Site Plan Application.

    If the Use would have multiple computers, it seems like it would fit the Commercial Use and Zoning. We also allow food services within Commercial Zones.

    We would also try to see if the proposed or existing parking space met the needs of the proposed Use based on claimed and Zoning Code capacity calculations.

    We would probably allow an Internet Cafe Use as a Commercial Use.

    We do not address "gambling" uses in our Zoning Ordinance. That would probably be a Business Occupation License or police matter no matter what location or zone it would be in.

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