Business

Scott Lends Support to Closing Internet Cafes

By: Jim Turner | Posted: January 19, 2012 3:55 AM
Internet Cafe

Credit: phoenixdirecttech.com

Gov. Rick Scott favors closing the Internet cafes that have been springing up across the state.

The governor, who has yet to take a public stance on the destination gaming bills now before the Legislature, took a firm stand on the cafes or arcades that cater to seniors and fall short of being legally considered casinos by offering "sweepstake" prizes rather directly awarding cash.

“I don’t believe that the Internet locations are legal or should be legal,” Scott told reporters during a media gathering in his Capitol office. “It’s an area that I think doesn’t make sense. I don’t believe in it.”

Scott’s comment came a day after the House Business and Consumer Affairs Committee approved by a 10-5 vote HB 3, which would prohibit the more than 1,000 cafes that have opened throughout the state.

Two other bills regarding the cafes go before the Senate Regulated Industries Committee on Thursday. 

SB 428, by Sen. Steve Oelrich, R-Gainesville, would prohibit the simulated gaming devices that are used at Internet cafes.

SB 380, sponsored by Miguel Diaz de la Portilla, R-Miami, imposes regulations on the businesses.

The Senate version of the destination gaming bill, SB 714, which would establish a state gaming commission and allow three mega-casinos in South Florida, has also been amended to allow the existing Internet cafes to remain open, but prohibit any more licenses being granted.

Unlike the voter-approved Florida lottery, which the state continues to expand and Scott said he supports to pay for public education, regulating the cafes may impact the state’s $250 million-plus a year Seminole Indian compact which prohibits slot machines outside of Miami-Dade and Broward counties.

A typical cafe allows customers to buy time on slot machine-style games deemed “sweepstakes” games. The customers compete for credit, which can be redeemed for cash.

“We have two options, look the other way or pass House Bill 3,” said Rep. Scott Plakon, R-Longwood, who sponsored HB 3.

A number of communities have sought to impose their own regulations against the businesses. Most notably, Palm Beach County this month voted to stop issuing business-tax receipts for arcades in unincorporated areas while a one-year moratorium is put in place.

Rep. Joe Abruzzo, D-Wellington, who was among those voting against the bill, said thousands of jobs are at risk.

Laurie Lee, representing International Internet Technologies, which markets the technology used in some of the cafes, said each cafe employs from eight to 13 people.

“It’s punitive to those businesses that operate according to Florida law,” she said. “It would eliminate over 10,000 paying jobs.”

The ban is supported by the Florida Sheriffs Association, Florida Chamber of Commerce and Attorney General Pam Bondi.



Reach Jim Turner at jturner@sunshinestatenews.com or at (772) 215-9889.



Comments (27)

Becky
9:55PM APR 10TH 2013
Lets remember this when it comes time to.vote, I wont vote him back in ofc
P. Sharpless
8:28PM APR 10TH 2013
The local internet cafes provide a place where seniors can go without traveling miles and have an hour of getting away from being care givers at home. It is a form of therapy for many. It is also a place you can spend as little as $20 as compared to spending hundreds at the large casinos.

Please keep the cafes open.
Marlene Ehle
12:05PM APR 8TH 2013
as a senior, this is our social life with friends, our biggest enjoyment that is nice for people with handicap's, the internets we go to we have all become family and have a nice time, supper is brought in daily, I do not understand why all internets have to be closed because of one line and the Lt. Gov.'s involvement. Looks like we are being punished for her involvement....or to quiet scandal...one internet I go to employ's a Mother, Father , and son, they will loose all of their income, I am sure there will be a lot of family's in the same boat. I say leave us alone please, we are not our drinking, doing drugs or causing any problems for our neighbors.
vi ferrell
9:25AM APR 8TH 2013
All we do is go to these small places to have a little enjoyment, meet with friends and spend a couple dollars. What the heck is wrong with that?? We have worked hard all our life and now that it's time to retire, get out of the house and find a little enjoyment, there is no alcohol so we don't drink and kill some one driving home, we drink sodas and eat crackers, laugh and socialize, now that right is being taken away too? Oh, and just how many people over the age of 60 spend all of the bill money there? get real, and give us a little credit we didn't make it all these years by being stupid. And there really are a lot of people out there doing real bad things that hurt other people, spend more time and money going after them!! Yes I am upset and hopefully so are a lot of others.
Karina
4:49PM APR 5TH 2013
I am caught in the middle I say close them cause some people can't control themselves as in they will spend their bill money trying to win ad lose everything and sit wondering where they can get the money from. It has it pros and cons. Now for those who don't have transportation to get to Tampa or Mississippi then it's very convenient for them. Everyone can not afford the trip but altogether the closing may work in everyone favor in the long run. They should just open up a real casino like Imperial Palace on I-75 and have buses that go there everyday. I prefer the real casinos open about 10 of them and everyone will make money.
Peggy Moreno
3:21PM APR 2ND 2013
Since Gov Scott took office he's not for the people. He only wants to line his pockets like the rest of the politicians. He's not for the people. He's putting alot of them out of work putting more burden on the state
Peggy Moreno
3:05PM APR 2ND 2013
unemployment and food stamps more burden to the state and the little people
Peggy Moreno
3:05PM APR 2ND 2013
unemployment and food stamps more burden to the state and the little people
Carol E.
9:45AM MAR 30TH 2013
I am a senior occasionally using these cafes, and I can assure you they are just fun and relaxing. Most of us can not afford the Indian Casinos, so this is much cheaper fun.....why not regulate them and charge a per terminal quarterly fee/tax, also to go to the state of Florida. I see it as a possible good revenue stream for the state and a way of maintaining the jobs.
cm white
10:01AM MAR 26TH 2013
If you are going to close down these thing that retired people like lets just close down everything, that we play and also children play, and while we are at it, let have all snowbirds and retired people leave this state, now you can have just what you want a family friendly state. Since we get olderd, and have very few things we can do, now you are telling us where, what we can have some fun at. Get a life
vi ferrell
8:53AM APR 8TH 2013
I agree 100 per cent. Tell them like it is!!
DAVE R
3:45PM MAR 23RD 2013
I think is no different than any other form of gambling in the state either leave them ALL open or shut them ALL down gambling include lottery , tampa casino , dogs, horses, jal alai , bingo . all or none! not fair to pick and choose . GAMBLING IS GAMBLING!
Jose Diaz
2:48AM MAR 23RD 2013
A few people running this state want to close the cafes but they r not saying what they r going to do with the now resigned Lt. governor who was involved with the cafes are they going to hire her back,if she had anything to do with this they should make her give the money due to whoever it was suppose to go to.and have her in front of the judge just like the others in jail.or are they going to cover for her.if she is guilty punish her.
Jose Diaz
2:31AM MAR 23RD 2013
i don't think it's fair to close the internet cafes and still have the lottery which is gambling have the Casinos which is gambling have the dog tracks which is gambling.this is the only place that seniors can spent the day and relax and meet new people,plus it gives people jobs something much needed in this state.As long as this this operators do everything as required by the law there should not be any problem.Can the state provide a good atmosphere for seniors where they can feel relax and have a little peace of mind,which would give them better health and maybe something to leave for,i don't think so.
kevin laprade
11:35PM MAR 22ND 2013
I now if they closed thes internet caffs people would spend there money back into the economy insted of spending there pay check in the casino
David C
7:56PM MAY 21ST 2013
The people who go there, do so for a little enjoyment and socializing. Win a little lose a little. Most we ever lost was $20.00.We played in November and December. Broke about even and had a great time. Only 1 or 2 hours. Not like driving to Tampa and losing $300-500 at a time. It is all politics. Let the seniors enjoy the time they have left. GET A LIFE. IDIOTS.
Jose Diaz
3:03AM MAR 23RD 2013
Kevin:How r people going to spent money back into the economy when there is a reccesion in this country,people have to make a little money legally if they can,which is better than selling drugs to our youth and have a government that does nothing about it.The cafes is not a problem drugs,crime, domestic violence that is where this government should be focusing on.Cafes put money in the community in licenses,permits,jobs and a peaceful enviroment
Linda Avnet
9:30PM MAR 18TH 2013
I agree with Brenda 100%. Why are they so focused on something so little as this. When there are doctors out here giving out pain killers left and right, shouldn't they be more concerned about something a little more serious??! People are dying from over dose and your worried about a damn Internet cafe! Sweepstakes cafes are no different than the lottery and scratch offs, McDonald's sweepstakes etc.. Thousands of people will be out of jobs, does anyone care about that?! Dennis heckle people litter every where you go and as far as unsafe I highly doubt that. Oh & people lose everything they own for pills too!
Dennis Heckle
1:47PM MAR 18TH 2013
I say shut them all down. It is creating an unsafe enviorement in the shopping areas which they are renting. There is alot of riff raff loitering in these areas and unsafe for the normal family to shop. The areas are disgustingly filthy and littered with trash and cigarette butts all the time. It brings in the crime. People lose "Everything" they own to gamble.
Marlene Ehle
12:21PM APR 8TH 2013
I don't know what internet that u go to, rif-raf, cigarettes on the floor, smoking is not allowed, and the ones I attend are very clean. highly educated retired seniors go in our group, we are not rif-raf, we own homes in two states, we are not stupid or we wouldn't be able to keep both homes.
Elaine MacDonald
1:14PM MAR 18TH 2013
Go ahead and close down the crooks but it is awful to close the legitimate cafes that are not affiliated with Allied or Arcola.. They are not "non-profits" and they have invested in the community. If you have half a brain - you would know that ANY computer can be used to access the internet and check email so they all fulfill that requirement. They also fill otherwise EMPTY Business space and they employ local people. Unlike the Indians - they give back to their community and local businesses that they buy Food and Soda from... Don't be hasty - Seniors so LOVE these little escapes and great places to meet other seniors...
peggy johnson
11:44PM NOV 13TH 2012
It is sadly amazing how they are baffling over these places. I am a victim of these GAMBLING places. they try to fool our brains saying its not gambling but it is..cut and dried. its sad the the state reps would allow this to happen to their citizens. They allowed these fast moving, fast talking crooks o come set up shop anywhere. These places has ruined soo many families ,itshorrific. State legs knew that this is gambling and that people would soon be ADDICTED and out of control. These billionaire owners formed a team so that could have weight behind them when the State argued the legality of these scams. The talked about closing them then these billionaires slid some money under and over the table and this is what started the slow mumble jumble. at the same time, Florida is losing money bc people are losing their homes, cars etc..most importantly their families bc nobody can deal with a gambler. Duval county is drowning and so is the residents. People are embarrassed to show their faces or to speak out but it has come to the point where people will speak out and bring the media in,, very soon. The state should have better concern for its residents, Victims of these scam places are waiting to see what the law will do about their suffering.. Start a petion and you will see just how many will say CLOSE THEM>>>NOW !!!
David C
8:00PM MAY 21ST 2013
PEGGY, IF YOU CAN NOT CONTROL YOURSELF, THEN STAY AWAY. NO ONE TWISTED YOUR ARM. YOUR JUST MAKING OTHERS SUFFER BECAUSE YOU HAVE NO SELF CONTROL. IF THE LOTTERY IS OK SO SHOULD INTERNET CAFES.
Jose Diaz
3:23AM MAR 23RD 2013
Peggy:You are a victim because you have no knowledge how this games go you went to a cafe and thought you were going to make easy money and did not know how to walk away when you lost.The first thing a person should do is walk away if they r not winning and try some other day.you should worry about people working under the table and not paying any taxes,the crooked politicians who let this country go from #1 to the standing it is in now at the bottom,that's more important than the cafes.No country can go forward if only a small % of the population pay taxes.Those r the real crooks.
Brenda Smith
10:41PM JAN 19TH 2012
Wow ! Why not look the other way! You have pain centers opening up and selling drugs all over the state of Florida . Why doesn't Rick Scott close down all the PAIN CENTERS arcoss FLORIDA that cause the steady flow of drugs being legally sold, but that should be illegally sold to anyone and causing our country to fall to it's knees , families being destroyed by drugs like OXYCODONE!!!!!! And now they are coming out with a new drug that is even stronger . I want to know when and who approved the first pain center to open and where it was. This is where a lot of this countries problems stem from . We need to close places like that Rick Scott or is it just because to much money is being made that we allow places like this to exist? It really is an amazing fact that this country will fall to its knees because our government allows places like this to exist. Don't try to turn the other cheek on this one , DO something about it. It's like these places just popped everywhere over night and no one is paying attention. I have 12 pages of pain centers just from St. Petersburg and Clearwater Thats 300 pain centers in a 30mile radius now cover the state.....
Csmth
11:01PM MAR 19TH 2013
I respect peoples opinions to each his own but these places are not hurting anyone!! I worked at one for years as did my husband. This was a place for people to have fun and be entertained. Nobody forced people to spend money they did it because the enjoyed it. Ive had so many of our customers say they are so sad they dont know what to do with their free time anymore where do they go? Punish allied vetrens they did wrong dont come after all the others. Whats the difference between internet cafes and bingo halls? Bingo is gambling for cash but its something to keep the elderly entertained that they love doing just like the internet cafes. Its just so sad there are more things for the florida senate to worry about. Maybe they can worry about the unemployment rate considering that 15,000 people are going to be out of a job now. My husband and I are but I guess thats not a problem for them.
MISSZZZZ
8:02PM MAR 24TH 2013
WE WILL REMEMBER NOT TO VOTE WHEN IT COME ELECTION TIME

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