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California cracks down on 'sweepstakes cafes'

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) -- California law enforcement authorities are cracking down on Internet sweepstakes cafes, businesses featuring dozens of computers where customers bet on video games that simulate casino slot machines.

The efforts against them include proposed legislation that would ban the establishments and a lawsuit by the Los Angeles city attorney.

People who run Internet sweepstakes cafes and their lawyers say law enforcement is overreaching. They say the games are similar to those offered legally as a marketing tool by corporations.

But one lawmaker who is trying to ban them says the sweepstakes cafes are a source of many social ills.

Similar operations have opened in at least 19 states, according to a report released last fall by the American Gaming Association. Legislatures in some of those states already have moved to ban them.

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