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Phil Matier: SF Tenderloin Laundromat Offers Online Gambling While You Wait

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A computer keyboard. (CBS)

A computer keyboard. (CBS)

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SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS)— A San Francisco laundromat near Glide Memorial Church in the Tenderloin has gone into the internet-gambling business. While you wait for the wash to dry you can now do some Vegas-style gambling at Big T’s Internet center in the back room of this unique Ellis Street location.

This is one of the odder stories I’ve come across. On Tuesday I was at the Chronicle offices at 5th and Mission and I got a call from a guy I know in the Tenderloin, who said I had to check this place out.

Now the concept of combining a laundromat with another type of establishment isn’t all that foreign. In New Orleans and other places it’s laundry and tavern. You have an hour to kill so why not?

So I took my caller up on his advice and strolled past the people lined up at the Glide Memorial soup kitchen and went into the laundromat.

KCBS’ Phil Matier Reports:

In the backroom there was about 40 computers lined up against the walls and down the center. I asked what was going on and they explained. It’s basically something that’s popping up all around the Bay Area, but not getting much attention.

Instead of buying poker chips, for this computerized sweepstakes, you pay $5 for about an hours worth of time on the computer and 500 points. Those points can be used against various internet sweepstakes games that are being nationally played. Apparently you can win up to $3,000. Bonus if you’re a regular customer with 20 hours of time clocked in. There’s a Wheel of Fortune you can spin for a chance at more time to gamble, a carton of smokes or even a bottle of Crown Royal if you prefer.

So I guess there’s a place for all types of gamblers. High rollers go to Vegas, mid-graders go the Indian casinos and the rest frequent places like this. The cops didn’t seem to know much about the operation and when I called the attorney general’s office, I was told that they’re aware of establishments like these that are popping up, but they weren’t sure where they fall legally.

(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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