Internet Cafe Patrons Speak Out Against Possible Ban

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By: Mike Springer
April 5, 2013

Tallahassee, FL-Soon internet cafes across Florida may have to cash out.

"I aint going to lie. I would be upset if they closed it down," said Brian Hayes who gambles at the cafes.

The Florida Legislature says it's not willing to take a gamble on the shops. This week, the senate passed a bill outlawing the cafes.

The move comes after raids throughout the state led to charges of racketeering and illegal gambling and even the resignation of Lt. Governor Jennifer Carroll.

Now the bill awaits the signature of Governor Rick Scott before it could become law. It's a law Senate Rules Chair John Thrasher is pushing for.

"Very positive thing for our state. Very positive thing for our citizens and I know it's a positive thing for law enforcement folks who have been having trouble with these types of activities," said Thrasher.

But the bill isn't without its detractors. Seniors say the bill would shutdown the arcades they like to use. Other say the bill is too broad. They'd rather see a push for stronger regulations than a full-out ban. While loyalist of the cafes say even if they disappear, it won't stop people from gambling.

"It's just going to enhance the problem because people are going to go find somewhere else or another method to get by as far as gambling goes," said Hayes.

The governor is expected to sign the bill, passing it into law. That may happen some time within the next few weeks.

By: Garin Flowers
April 4, 2013, 11:37 p.m.

Two contentious bills passed the Florida Senate Thursday.

First up, a ban on internet cafes. The bill filed by Senator John Thrasher, R-St. Augustine, passed 36-4.

"A very positive thing I think for our state, very positive thing for our citizens and I know it's a positive thing for our law enforcement folks who've been having trouble with these kinds of activities," Thrasher said.

It was four south Florida senators that voted against it.

They passionately disagreed with the bill saying legal establishments like senior and children's amusement centers would also be affected.

"I think they've been mislead by some of the operators who frankly don't want to change their business model, but I honestly think they're going to be able to continue to stay in business, maybe make some adjustments, particularly if they're using machines that cross the line into gambling," Thrasher added.

State officials said they will look at the measure again next year if any problems arise.

Prior to internet cafes, legislators debated alimony reform. They passed the bill sponsored by Senator Kelli Stargel with a 29-11 vote.

"I'm very happy, I think we have a good product. I think it was a fair product and I think you can see that by the support in the senate," Stargel said.

She hopes the bill encourages divorced parties to move on to independent and healthy lifestyles.

It gives a judge the final decision on which form of alimony to award.

"Actually, we got rid of permanent alimony, but what we did was put in some framework surrounding alimony and what we did is define marriages: short, mid and long term marriages," Stargel said.

More information about both bills is below.

Associated Press Release

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) -- Internet cafes in Florida could soon be out of business under a bill that is now heading to the desk of Gov. Rick Scott.

The Florida Senate on Thursday approved by a 36-4 vote a measure that would ban the storefront operations.

Some legislators opposed the bill because they said it went too far and would result in the closure of senior arcades.

The Legislature is feeling pressure to act after an investigation into the Allied Veterans of the World charity. It was accused of running a $290 million illegal gambling business that directed most of the proceeds into its owners' pockets

Sen. Miguel Diaz de la Portilla, R-Miami, said legislators were responding to what he called "mass hysteria" that surrounded the federal investigation of Allied.

Associated Press Release

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) -- The Florida Senate has passed a bill that would put an end to permanent alimony in the Sunshine State.

It's the latest attempt by Florida lawmakers to set new guidelines for the emotional issue of spousal support after marriages dissolve. A similar bill died in the Legislature last year.

The version that cleared the Senate on a 29-11 vote Thursday would replace permanent alimony with spousal support that has a foreseeable end.

It also would make it harder to get alimony in short-term marriages.

The bill (SB 718) generally would prevent courts from ordering alimony for longer than one-half of the length of the marriage.

The Florida House is considering similar legislation.

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