GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. Despite cybercafes being deemed illegal operations in Colorado, several citizens in Mesa County tell us five of them have re-opened after being shut down by the state.
Back in October of 2014, the Attorney General banned cybercafes in Colorado, saying they're illegal gambling operations.
There's a lot of confusion circling about their apparent comeback in the Grand Valley.
There's very limited information as to how or why these alleged illegal cybercafes have popped up in our area once again.
The possible return of cybercafes to Mesa County has come as a shock to most.
In addition to being named illegal by the attorney general less than a year ago, state groups have gone a step further to shut simulated gambling out of the small gaming sector in Colorado.
Executive Director of the Colorado Gaming Association, Lois Rice, says her group had a large hand in passing house bill 1047, banning internet cafes, sweepstakes, and cybercafes in Colorado during the 2015 legislative session.
“As long as they're offering downloadable, simulated games that are similar to those in existing communities, then they would be considered illegal establishments,” says Lois Rice.
Rice says the concerns with cybercafes are the same as they were nearly a year ago when the Attorney General's opinion was released.
Cybercafes are not regulated by any state agencies, they are not taxed, and they do not offer any prize security to their patrons.
Rice says that it is likely that these alleged cybercafes may be operating under city or county operational licenses and that is why they're open for business, but that still does not give them the legal authority to offer simulated gambling opportunities for patrons.
We did reach out to two of the alleged illegal cybercafe owners in Mesa County who both declined comment.
Back in March, the Mesa County DA sent out cease and desist letters to "cybercafé" business owners to close by April 1st.
Cybercafés sell internet access to customers who can play computer games that often resemble Las Vegas type slot machines.
They give "sweepstakes points" customers can redeem for cash or prizes. The Attorney General's office says these types of facilities are not actually sweepstakes operations, but gambling operations.