Fla. poised to ban internet cafes despite outcry

Corey Perrine/Staff
Ruth Thrall enjoys a slot-style game, Crazy Bugs, Monday, March 18, 2013 at The Vegas Experience in Fort Myers, Fla. Just days after a House committee moved forward with a proposal that would essentially outlaw storefront gaming centers, like Internet cafes and adult arcades, the Senate gaming committee is expected to hear a â“very similarâ” bill. This is response to the raid last last week that resulted in 50+ arrests and the resignation of the lieutenant governor. Owner Karen Kopp is up in Talahassee trying to save her businesses. The business offers gift cards, not cash, making it different from casinos and internet cafes. 'This is harmless pleasure for us seniors, why take this away from us.' Thrall asked. 'We're not gambling our money away, we're just spending like 5 bucks, just having fun.'

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Corey Perrine/Staff Ruth Thrall enjoys a slot-style game, Crazy Bugs, Monday, March 18, 2013 at The Vegas Experience in Fort Myers, Fla. Just days after a House committee moved forward with a proposal that would essentially outlaw storefront gaming centers, like Internet cafes and adult arcades, the Senate gaming committee is expected to hear a â“very similarâ” bill. This is response to the raid last last week that resulted in 50+ arrests and the resignation of the lieutenant governor. Owner Karen Kopp is up in Talahassee trying to save her businesses. The business offers gift cards, not cash, making it different from casinos and internet cafes. "This is harmless pleasure for us seniors, why take this away from us." Thrall asked. "We're not gambling our money away, we're just spending like 5 bucks, just having fun."

TALLAHASSEE — Florida lawmakers are moving ahead with a ban of internet cafes despite protests that the ban could also shut down other businesses.

The Senate Rules Committee approved the ban on Tuesday and the legislation could go to the desk of Gov. Rick Scott later this week.

The committee approved the bill over the objections of players and owners of senior arcades. Arcade operators contend the legislation is too broad and will put them out of business. Arcade players say the facilities give senior citizens a place to go.

The Legislature is feeling pressure to act in the wake of 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.

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