Gilroy police and agents from the Department of Justice Thursday night raided what they are calling an illegal online casino posing as an Internet cafe, taking boxes of computers, slot machines and other items within the shop.
On Friday morning, Liberty PCS is on First Street in a strip mall in the southern part of Santa Clara County was closed, a sign on its door announced that it had been shuttered by authorities.
Calls to Liberty PCS were not immediately returned.
Gilroy Police Sgt. Joseph Dears told NBC Bay Area that an investigation was launched this spring with undercover agents revealing that the business was not just offering “sweepstakes” and retails sales, as it promised. Instead, he said, customers would buy Internet cards to use computers, which boasted a variety of gambling opportunities such as slots, Keno and poker. The winnings were then credited back to the Internet card for the customers to cash out, he said.
There are legal forms of gambling in California that include the state lottery, horse betting, card clubs, Indian casinos and charitable gaming. But these particular gambling operations are strictly regulated.
But according to Santa Clara County Deputy District Attorney Steve Lowney, Liberty PCS was not operating under such regulations. He told NBC Bay Area on Friday that the owner of the business has not yet been arrested or charged, but that when investigators track that person down, he or she will likely face an illegal gambling misdemeanor charge.
According to Gilroy Police Sgt. Royce Heath, "several" customers were arrested during Thursday's operation on unrelated narcotics and probation violation charges.
Internet cafes operating as illegal casinos were prevalent enough so that last year, Attorney General Kamala Harris sent an alert about it. Computers that offer "sweepstakes," Harris said, are usually operating illegal slot machines.