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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Governor wants to shut down Internet cafes, considers them illegal

18

January

Gov. Rick Scott is no fan of the so-called Internet Cafes that operate slot machine look alikes using a loophole in the state's sweepstakes law. At a media availability with reporters Wednesday he said that he wants them shut down.

“I don’t believe that the Internet locations are legal or should be legal,’’ he said. “It’s an area that I think dones’ make sense. I don’t believe in it.”

The Senate Regulated Industries Committee on Thursday will take up two Internet cafe bills. One by Sen. Steve Oelrich, R-Alachua, would outlaw the machines and shut down as many as 1,000 of the operations in Florida and another, by Sen. Miguel Diaz de la Portilla, R-Miami, would regulate the gambling halls, effectively forcing some of the marginal operators to close shop too.

However, when Scott was asked if he was "open to more gaming?", the governor did not shoot that idea down.

My position has been I don’t want our budget to rely on gaming,'' said Scott, who has watched as the promoters of the destination resort casinos have become the largest contributor to the Republican Party of Florida in the last quarter. "I don’t think it’s good for the budget because it can go up and down.”

When Scott was again asked if he supports expanded gambling, he answered: "I want to see the bill.”

He did weigh in on an idea being floated by promoters of the casino resort idea: use the bill to limit the expansion of gambling, including the state's lottery. Sen. Ellyn Bogdanoff has said that the Lottery started the state's journey into expanded gaming and if the state wants to curb gambling it should curb the Lottery. 

"The state made the decision years ago,'' Scott said of the state-run Lottery. "It generates money for our schools and we’re not going to do that.”

[Last modified: Wednesday, January 18, 2012 5:15pm]

    

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