By THE BAKERSFIELD CALIFORNIAN
It's been a back-and-forth discussion between two business sectors in the community. Internet cafe owners say their businesses are places where people can relax, use free Internet and play harmless games. But business owners near the cafes say their establishments are suffering by the type of crowd the cafes attract.
Tuesday on "First Look with Scott Cox," the owner of Scissorhands Salon & Boutique voiced her concerns about the issue. Lynae Cummings' salon is next to an Internet cafe.
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"It's a nightmare," Cummings said. "We share a hallway and a restroom with the cafe next door and I've seen drug deals happen in the hallway, used syringes on the floor, among other things."
Californian reporter Theo Douglas, who has been covering the issue, said the cafes are decorated in gambling themes and the games on the computer screens have Vegas-style slot machines.
City officials say the cafes are outlets for illegal gambling and the Kern County District Attorney's office is awaiting two appellate court rulings expected in November to strengthen its legal footing, before filing cases against the cafes, Douglas said.
Ten cafes were closed this year but 12 to 14 cafes are currently up and running.
"Nobody wants to have empty property but something has to be done because this is clearly gambling going on here," simulcast host Scott Cox said.
For Cummings, the crowds that gather outside the cafe on 20th Street scare her.
"It's attracting thugs and it's bad for my business' curb appeal that was never affected before they got there," Cummings said.
Lucky Lady Internet Cafe owner Joseph Captuo has told The Californian that all he offers is entertainment in a relaxing environment and he has tried to be a good neighbor, and hired security guards.