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Cyber-Cafe Crackdown

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Video games entered the vice-y realms of drinking and stripping as the L.A. City Council agreed to an ordinance regulating public internet parlors - specifically, the kinds designed to run high-end online games. There are about 30 establishments in the city that qualify as "cyber-cafes" under the new rules. Councilman Dennis Zine pushed the legislation after a string of cafe-related shootings in his district.

Mack Reed at LA Voice is pissed, but it seems to us like this is a worthwhile issue. The Times reports that one gamer said teenagers are critical to the survival of the Cafes, whether they play "during school hours or not."

That doesn't seem quite right. LAist has heard of more than one case of groups of young kids who combine hard drugs with cyber-cafe marathons to distastrous effects. As real shootings have occured near the cafes with alarming frequency, the city would be derelict if it didn't respond. If the restrictions stay reasonable, and the police enforce them cleanly, this appears to be a good approach to a legitimate problem.

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Forever talkative Councilman Tom LaBonge, never one to miss a chance to wax historical, compared the cafes to pool halls and said he'd rather see L.A.'s youth "on sports fields or in dancing academies." The Times article also says: "But he added that he knew teenagers liked to play video games."

I'm sure he did.