Legislators in Florida have passed a proposed measure that would ban all gaming at Internet cafes with Republican Governor Rick Scott subsequently announcing that he intends to sign the prohibition into law.
The controversial House Bill 155 was approved by the Florida House of Representatives in March by a vote of 108 to seven while the Florida Senate subsequently passed its own version of the legislation by a similar margin of 36 to four on Thursday.
The passage of the legislation followed the arrests of 57 people less than a month ago over allegations that they engaged in illegal gambling at an Internet cafe while purporting to work for a charity called Allied Veterans of the World. This scandal also saw Lieutenant Governor Jennifer Carroll resign as her public relations business had once been involved with Allied Veterans of the World.
“There is nothing in this bill that is going to close legitimate businesses,” said Florida State Senator John Thrasher.
“This is about closing down unscrupulous operators who have found loopholes in the statutes.”
However, critics including the Florida Arcade Association have disagreed and argue that the text of the bill will possibly impact more than 200 senior and children’s amusement centres throughout the southern state.
“Forcing arcade customers to only use a coin and not a dollar bill to start a game and prohibiting customers from redeeming points for a retail gift card could mean bowling alleys, malls, airports, restaurants, skating rinks, movie theatres and retail stores will feel the impact of this measure,” said Gale Fontaine, President for the Florida Arcade Association.
“Seniors and children are being punished despite following the rules and providing a safe place for entertainment.”