SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. –San Bernardino County District Attorney Michael Ramos charged three business owners today with gambling-related charges for their alleged involvement in illegal gambling parlors disguised as Internet cafés.
Oleg A Ruet, 28, of Tarzana; Larry Horne Jr., 53, of Apple Valley; and Simoun Zaidan, 42, of Jacksonville, Florida, have been charged with three misdemeanor counts each of Possessing or Keeping of Slot Machines or Devices (PC 330b). The charges stem from a series of raids conducted by the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department in Hesperia in March 2013.
“When you break down the details of how these types of businesses operate, and how they try to circumvent the state gambling laws, it becomes very clear that these storefronts are nothing more than illegal gambling casinos,” District Attorney Michael Ramos said.
According to the Bureau of Gambling Control, Internet cafés are generally located in storefront strip malls; however, they can also be standalone establishments. Each café is typically filled with numerous computers.
Customers generally purchase Internet time or phone time on a magnetic-striped card, which is then swiped at the computer terminal or station inside the café. After swiping the card, customers are then awarded sweepstakes points that give them a chance to win cash. Customers may then check to see if they won or choose to play gambling-themed games. Customers who win prizes can either cash in their winnings, or use the winnings to purchase additional internet time.
According to District Attorney Ramos, there is usually a server that works in conjunction with the onsite computers running the gambling software.
“The café owners think they can navigate around our state gambling laws because this software is run by out-of-state companies,” Ramos said. “Thankfully, as a result of the hard work of the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s deputies involved in these investigations, we were able to file charges and send a message that this type of behavior will not be tolerated anywhere in our county,” Ramos said.
If convicted as charged, each count is punishable by a fine of not less than $500 nor more than $1,000, and/or imprisonment in county jail not exceeding six months.