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Future of Internet Cafes Uncertain

By: Whitney Ray Email
By: Whitney Ray Email

By: Whitney Ray

The internet café raids are shedding doubt on the future of the sweepstakes businesses in Florida. As Whitney Ray tells, the sponsor of a bill to ban new internet cafes will now consider amending his legislation to shut down all internet cafes in Florida.

A federal investigation claims Allied Veterans of the World lied to customers by operating internet cafes for profit not to help soldiers. Tuesday a massive raid found just two percent of the nearly 300 million dollars the purported non-profit made was spent on veterans.

The bust shut down 51 internet cafes all over the state a location in Tallahassee. Five miles away at the state capitol the question is being raised should they all be shut down?

The Florida House answered the question last year, passing a bill by Former Representative Scott Plakon to ban all internet cafes. But the senate never took it up.

This year Senator John Thrasher is sponsoring a bill that would ban the expansion of internet cafes. In light of the raid, he’s now considering outlawing them all.

“Now I believe the evidence has come out that indicates these things were exactly what we though they were. They’ve been corrupted. There’s a problem with them. Counties and Cities are having problems. Law enforcement is having problems,” said Thrasher.

Daniel Russell is a Tallahassee attorney representing gaming interests in Florida. Russell says internet cafes only exist through a loophole in state law.

“It really is a policy call from the legislature. What do you want to do with these things. You’ve acknowledged there maybe a thousand operating today,” said Russell.

And for those still in business increased scrutiny is in the future as lawmakers look at how best to regulate the industry.

“They have to go justify their existence and I don’t think they can do that,” said Thrasher.


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