Swept up in the internet café scandal, hundreds of seniors who say banning the sweepstakes businesses would tear apart their communities.
“These are the seniors that fought and saved your country,” said Gal Fontaine.
Tuesday morning senior after senior stepped to the mike to testify against a bill to ban internet cafes. Not because they support sweepstakes gaming, but out of fear the ban is too broad and adult arcades would be caught up in the mix.
“Don’t lump us together with the internet. We are not the internet,” said Joan Subadino.
Adult arcades aren’t internet cafes. They’re much cheaper. Users claim they are skill games. Seniors say the arcades are more like social clubs than casinos.
“I go there by myself and I meet people. I talk. I have a custard. I have a hot coco,” said Anita Silverman.
After more than an hour of testimony the Senate Rules Committee passed the ban. The vote made some seniors so mad they threatened to leave the state.
“Oh, I’m out of Florida. I’m out of Port St. Lucie. Why take all them jobs from the people if they are willing to work,” said an adult arcade customer.
The bill’s sponsor says the arcade patrons have nothing to fear. He says his legislation simply clarifies existing law and if the arcades aren’t breaking the law now then they are in the clear.
“I think they are still going to be able to go to their arcades. The business people who have been operating those are going to have to look at what they’ve been doing,” said Sen. John Thrasher.
Concerns were also raised about how the ban would impact children’s arcades, but an attorney for the senate testified those games are in the clear.
The bill could be read on the Senate Floor Thursday and voted on by Friday. The internet café ban has already passed the Florida House.