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Florida Committee To Look At Sweepstakes Cafe Regulation

Committee Appointed To Study Issue In The Sunshine State


While card rooms in Florida continue to flourish and the debate continues for the addition of destination casino resorts, the state turns their attention to the issue of storefront internet cafes, which have began offering computerized games of chance for patrons to gamble on.

The games, which are very similar to slot machines, operate in a grey area of the law because they don’t technically qualify as a game of chance, since the outcomes are predetermined. State gambling laws refer to these games as sweepstakes.

A bill was introduced in 2012 that would ban the machines, but it died in the Florida Senate. Instead of regulation, which would be seen by the legislature as a sign of approval, Senate President Don Gaetz has decided to appoint a committee to determine the game’s fate.

The committee, which will also look at other issues such as tribal gaming and parimutuel facilities, will spend the next two years looking at the state’s gambling industry. Meanwhile, internet cafes will continue to be policed by the state’s 67 counties, who are currently ill-prepped for the task.

“We agree that the electronic sweepstakes technology has outpaced current law and that changes should be made to the law so that bad operators can be shut down and law enforcement and local governments can have the measuring stick they need to distinguish between the law abiding facilities and the questionable ones,” said Coalition of Florida’s Internet Cafes spokesperson Sarah Bascom.