Just three weeks after investigators shutdown 51 internet cafes, state lawmakers passed a bill to outlaw all the sweepstakes businesses.
Caught in the controversy is Former Lieutenant Governor Jennifer Carroll, who did consulting work for the alleged charity running the closed cafes.
“We saw millions and millions of dollars being embezzled by this stuff and we saw even the fall of the Lt. Governor as a result of this,” said Sen. Darren Soto.
Lawmakers acted fast. Just two days after bust a bill to shut down the remaining one thousand cafes passed its first committee. Thursday afternoon it made its final appearance in the Florida Senate.
“Events obviously brought us to where we are today,” said Sen. John Thasher.
As the debate raged on, question arose about the unintended consequences of the ban. Opponents are concerned about children’s games, adult arcades and even vending machines.
“Internet cafés are not senior amusement centers,” said Sen. Maria Sachs.
Most of the opposition came from South Florida Democrats. They worry the ban is too broad and it will shut down adult arcades frequented by seniors.
“I’ve had numerous seniors coming into my office crying to me about changing our lifestyle. This, to me, should not be included in the bill,” said Sen. Joseph Abrozzo.
The majority couldn’t be swayed. Now the bill is headed to the governor’s desk.
Internet cafes will be illegal the moment Governor Rick Scott signs the bill. Lawmakers say they already are outlawed; the legislation simply clarifies existing law. The bills’ sponsor says the ban won’t impact children’s arcades or adult arcades that are currently following the rules.