Evan DuCharme/Special to The S.F. ExaminerNet Stop Cafe is one of several spots in the Excelsior district that provides computers that customers can use to play “sweepstakes games” for prizes.

Dennis Herrera sues to shut down Excelsior 'gambling' den

An Excelsior district business that hosts “illegal gambling” that's led to a hundred-fold increase in calls to police was sued by San Francisco in an effort to have the operation shut down, City Attorney Dennis Herrera announced Thursday.

The 50 computer terminals at Net Stop at 4458 Mission St., which advertises itself as an Internet café, allow patrons to play games that fall under the legal definition of gambling, according to Herrera's suit.

Gambling is banned in San Francisco.

Since Net Stop opened in fall 2012, police have responded to over 200 calls for service in the immediate vicinity. Before it opened, police had two calls over a similar time frame, Herrera said.

The suit names business owner Thomas Lacey as well as Michael Farrah, Lacey's main landlord, as defendants.

“This is criminal activity creating more criminal activity,” Herrera said in a statement. “Net Stop's owner should know better than to think he can get away with flouting state and local law.”

Farrah did not return calls seeking comment Thursday.

Herrera will ask a Superior Court judge to declare Net Stop a nuisance, have it shut down for a year, and have the computer terminals that provide the slot machine games sold off to pay for the police costs.

To date, police have not taken any action against Net Stop, but top department brass have said that they are “building a case” against the business.

By repute, there are other businesses along the Mission Street corridor like Net Stop that also host computer-based gambling games. No other businesses were named in the suit.

Other cities have grappled with Internet gambling cafes with mixed success. A ban on the businesses imposed by the city of Hayward is being challenged in court by Figure 8 Technologies, the company that provides the software used at those cafes and at Net Stop.

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