San Francisco’s city attorney today filed a lawsuit against an Internet café in the city’s Excelsior District that allegedly hosts illegal gambling and causes nuisances in the neighborhood. Net Stop, a business located at 4458 Mission St., allegedly allows customers to play computerized slot machine games and sells electronic “points” that can be redeemed for cash, according to the lawsuit filed in San Francisco Superior Court by City Attorney Dennis Herrera.
The opening of the business last year has also corresponded with a rise in criminal activity in the area, according to the city attorney’s office. The location was the subject of 202 calls for service to San Francisco police in the year leading up to this October, compared to just two between November 2011 and October 2012, the complaint alleges. Herrera is asking a judge to declare Net Stop a public nuisance, order the business closed for a year and for its owner to forfeit and sell its gambling equipment, and to impose civil penalties.
“Gambling is strictly regulated in California for a reason, and Net Stop’s owner should know better than to think he can get away with flouting state and local law,” Herrera said in a statement. “This is criminal activity creating more criminal activity, and we’re asking the court to put a stop to it and impose the maximum penalties under the law,” he said. Net Stop owner Thomas Lacey declined to comment on the lawsuit when reached by phone at the business this afternoon and referred questions to his attorney John Weston. “We will have very strong defenses,” Weston said.
“The allegations are simply not well-founded.” He said his client is “dismayed to be thought that they’re causing problems in the community” and said the business has made a number of changes to be more responsive to the community. San Francisco Supervisor John Avalos, who represents the Excelsior District, thanked the city attorney for filing the lawsuit. “Net Stop’s blatant violation of the law is doing real damage to quality of life in the area,” Avalos said in a statement. “It has put a terrible strain on the neighborhood, but today we’ve taken a big step toward shutting it down.”
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