Governor says he’ll sign the Internet cafe bill


400-SCOTT-THRASHERWhile in town Tuesday, Governor Rick Scott indicated to Historic City News that if the Florida Senate passed HB 155 outlawing gambling centers, he would sign the legislation into law — yesterday, that measure passed by a vote of 36-4.

St Augustine Senator John Thrasher sponsored SB 1030, the Senate version of the bill, telling local reporters that he could not support proposed amendments that would allow counties and cities to regulate the Internet sweepstakes cafes or allow paper money to be used at arcade entertainment centers for seniors and children.

“There is nothing in this bill that is going to close down legitimate businesses,” Thrasher said yesterday. “This is about closing down unscrupulous operators, who have found loopholes in the statutes.”

Thrasher’s original bill called for a two-year moratorium on new Internet sweepstakes cafes; but, after the recent resignation of Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll, who was a consultant for St Augustine based Allied Veterans of the World, even moderate lawmaker’s opinion of the online gambling parlors sharply changed. The bill flew through the Legislature spurred by the on-going racketeering investigation.

Carroll resigned last month after she was questioned by law enforcement officials, but has been charged with no wrongdoing.

Garrett Richter, Chairman of the Senate Gaming Committee, said that opponents of the bill, who expressed concerns that the measure was “overreaching” and might adversely impact a variety of legitimate activities for seniors and children, need not worry. A more sweeping proposal is expected on the future of gambling in Florida next year and Richter says “the vehicle is already in motion” to deal with any unintended consequences that may need to be corrected.