The Florida Senate’s Gaming Committee on Monday unanimously passed a bill that bans Internet cafes in the state by clarifying current gambling laws concerning slot machines, charitable drawings, game promotions and amusement games.
A similar measure is being considered in the House.
Critics say the cafes and their sweepstakes operations are primarily gambling operations.
The bill comes on the heels of last week’s multi-state racketeering investigation into alleged illegal Internet café gambling that led to the resignation of Lieut. Gov. Jennifer Carroll. She was questioned but not charged by investigators about her link to Allied Veterans, a nonprofit Florida-based organization that purportedly used Internet cafes to raise funds.
Carroll, who owned a public relations firm that had worked for Allied Veterans, said she resigned to allow state business to proceed without distractions related to her involvement in the investigation.
Allied raised $300 million through more than 40 Internet parlors while donating less than 2% of proceeds to charities, according to investigators pursuing the operation they dubbed “Reveal the Deal.”
Law enforcement officers executed 54 search warrants and 57 arrest warrants in Florida and five additional states last week. They also seized slot machines and records from Allied Veterans gambling centers, 80 vehicles and vessels, 170 properties and 260 bank accounts.
Investigators said more arrests could be expected in a second phase of their inquiry into illegal gambling, which could include elected officials.