Seniors Testify Against Internet Café Ban

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By: Whitney Ray

Legislation to ban internet cafes passed its final committee stop and could be voted on by the Florida Senate later this week. As Whitney Ray tells us the bill was approved in a room full of seniors who say the ban would ruin their social lives.

Swept up in the internet café scandal, hundreds of seniors who say banning the sweepstakes businesses would tear apart their communities.

“These are the seniors that fought and saved your country,” said Gal Fontaine.

Tuesday morning senior after senior stepped to the mike to testify against a bill to ban internet cafes. Not because they support sweepstakes gaming, but out of fear the ban is too broad and adult arcades would be caught up in the mix.

Adult arcades aren’t internet cafes. They’re much cheaper. Users claim they are skill games. Seniors say the arcades are more like social clubs than casinos.

“I go there by myself and I meet people. I talk. I have a custard. I have a hot coco,” said Anita Silverman from Delray Beach.

After more than an hour of testimony the Senate Rules Committee passed the ban. The vote made some seniors so mad they threatened to leave the state.

But the bill’s sponsor says the arcade patrons have nothing to fear. He says his legislation simply clarifies existing law and if the arcades aren’t breaking the law now then they are in the clear.

“I think they are still going to be able to go to their arcades. The business people who have been operating those are going to have to look at what they’ve been doing,” said State Senator John Thrasher.

Concerns were also raised about how the ban would impact children’s arcades, but an attorney for the senate testified those games are in the clear. The bill could be read on the Senate Floor Thursday and voted on by Friday. The internet café ban has already passed the Florida House.

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