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Internet Café Ban Passes House Committee

March 15th, 2013 by Anna Laura Rehwinkel

Days after a massive raid closed 51 internet cafes and led to the resignation of Florida’s Lieutenant Governor, state lawmakers are voting to ban the sweepstakes businesses statewide. As Whitney Ray tells us, the House Gaming Committee took quick action this morning. Too quick some say.

Just three days after a massive internet café bust, state lawmakers are taking action. Tuesday 51 internet cafes were raided and 57 people arrested.

The arrests stem from an investigation of Allied Veterans of the World. The group claimed its 290 million dollar internet café business was a charity, but investigators found just two percent of the processed were given to veterans.

Riding the coattails of investigators, a House Gaming committee sprang into action, amending a bill sponsored by Representative Carlos Trujillo to ban all internet cafes.

“I don’t think this is behavior we should encourage as a state, but it’s behavior we should punish,” said Trujillo.

Trujillo says the cafes, that run sweepstakes games that look a lot like slot machines, are already illegal. His legislation would simply clarify existing law.

The bill passed the committee with little opposition and just one no vote. The vote came from a House Democrat concerned that they were moving too fast.

Representative Jim Waldman says there wasn’t enough time to study the amendment. It was drafted Thursday night and voted on Friday morning.

“Yes it has parts of what are in other bills, but the reality is the stakeholders haven’t even had a chance to check in on this,” said Waldman.

Adult arcades would also be banned under the amended bill. An action Waldman says needs more vetting. The Senate Gaming Committee will take up a similar bill Monday.

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