Sunday, May 27, 2018
News Roundup

Tampa council moves to put six-month halt to new Internet sweepstakes cafes

TAMPA — A six-month halt on new Internet sweepstakes cafes inside Tampa city limits won initial approval Thursday from the City Council.

Officially known as a temporary abatement, the moratorium is meant to give the city time to enact its own ordinance regulating the cafes. Those businesses allow customers to participate in sweepstakes contests. But instead of getting scratch-off tickets to find out their winnings, they use computers that often simulate the spinning reels of a slot machine.

If passed in a second vote on Oct. 18, the six-month abatement will not affect Tampa's existing Internet cafes. The city has four that are open, with a fifth under construction, according to business tax records.

"If you're operating today, and you met code at the time you were operating, this would not impact you," senior assistant city attorney Julia Mandell told the council. Also exempt would be the Seminole Hard Rock Casino, Tampa Bay Downs, the Tampa Greyhound track, authorized bingo games and arcades properly operated under state law.

Council member Yvonne Yolie Capin brought up the idea of regulating cafes in March. On Sept. 20, the council voted to look into passing such an ordinance.

As a model, the city is expected to look to the city of Jacksonville, which limits the number of permits it will issue for Internet cafes, bases its permit fees on the number of machines in the cafes, requires security cameras and guards, and bans alcohol and minors from the cafes.

Tampa council members also have talked about requiring Internet cafes to have a minimum size and a minimum number of machines. Capin has said she wants to avoid a proliferation of sweepstakes cafes where coffee shops set up a machine or two in a back room.

The council is scheduled to discuss its options Nov. 29.

So far, city officials are taking a different path than did Hillsborough County.

In December, county commissioners voted to prohibit "simulated gambling devices." Seminole County, Orange County, and the cities of Winter Garden and Longwood have adopted similar bans.

Less than two weeks later, four sweepstakes companies sued the county in federal court. The suit, which is pending, claims Hillsborough's ban violates the cafes' First Amendment rights of free speech, unlawfully interferes with commerce and deprives them of equal protection and due process of law.

The ordinance establishing Tampa's temporary abatement notes that state law does not clearly define whether simulated gambling devices are, in fact, slot machines regulated by the state.

Council Chairman Charlie Miranda voted yes Thursday, but said he would vote no next month unless the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation is brought into the discussion.

"We're getting into an area that's really state-driven," he said.

Richard Danielson can be reached at [email protected] or (813) 226-3403.

Comments
A wet Memorial Day weekend continues as Alberto treks north

A wet Memorial Day weekend continues as Alberto treks north

Subtropical Storm Alberto continued its trek north-northeast overnight and is expected to make landfall in the northern Gulf Coast late Monday.The storm was about 85 miles north of the Dry Tortugas as of Sunday morning, producing winds up to 40 mph a...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Rays pitchers Ryne Stanek, Anthony Banda dominate in 5-1 win over Orioles

Rays pitchers Ryne Stanek, Anthony Banda dominate in 5-1 win over Orioles

THE BASEBALL LABORATORY IN ST. PETERSBURG — Up is down. Down is up. Hello is goodbye. Goodbye is hello. A reliever is a starter. A starter is a reliever.These are your 2018 Tampa Bay Rays.You never know what's going to happen. And just when you...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Rays journal: After Alex Colome trade, Rays’ closer situation is fluid, Kevin Cash says

Rays journal: After Alex Colome trade, Rays’ closer situation is fluid, Kevin Cash says

ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays have had to get creative in how they start games. Now, after Friday's trade of closer Alex Colome, they might have to get creative in how they finish them.How they handle the ninth inning going forward will be a fluid ...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Former Bucs QB Josh Freeman says he’s retiring from football

Former Bucs QB Josh Freeman says he’s retiring from football

Former Bucs quarterback Josh Freeman, who was trying to resurrect his career with the CFL's Montreal Alouettes, said Saturday that he is retiring from football.Freeman, 30, was a first-round draft pick of the Bucs in 2009 and was their starting ...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Her husband wouldn't apologize to her father — so she shot him, police say

Her husband wouldn't apologize to her father — so she shot him, police say

RIVERVIEW — A Riverview woman shot and killed her husband Saturday because he punched her father and wouldn’t say sorry, the Hillsborough Sheriff’s Office said. Sabrina Michelle Hendley, 40, faces a first-degree murder charge in th...
Updated: 12 hours ago
Thomas Bassinger’s takeaways from Saturday’s Rays-Orioles game

Thomas Bassinger’s takeaways from Saturday’s Rays-Orioles game

Interesting decision by the Rays to start RH reliever Ryne Stanek on Saturday. The Orioles' Nos. 1 through 5 hitters were righties, and Stanek came in allowing a 1.228 OPS against righties and a .592 OPS against lefties. It ended up working.How ...
Published: 05/26/18
Hernando officials seize 36 neglected dogs from sanctuary

Hernando officials seize 36 neglected dogs from sanctuary

WEEKI WACHEE — A woman who runs an animal sanctuary will face dozens of animal cruelty charges after Hernando County animal enforcement officers said they found dogs, equine, pigs, cats and chickens housed in poor conditions on her property.Animal of...
Published: 05/26/18

Police investigating shooting outside nightclub

ST. PETERSBURG — Police are investigating a fatal shooting that occurred outside a south St. Petersburg nightclub early Saturday morning.Brennan-Aire D. Williams, 28, was pronounced dead shortly after arriving by cab at Bayfront Health. Police invest...
Published: 05/26/18
Vegas envy: Is Tampa Bay ready for a Vegas’ birth-to-best story?

Vegas envy: Is Tampa Bay ready for a Vegas’ birth-to-best story?

What in the name of the 0-26 Bucs is going on here?The breathtaking Vegas Golden Knights are the greatest expansion team in professional sports history. They are the best (or worst) thing to ever happen to our games, having won 51 times during the re...
Published: 05/26/18

Woman dies in Plant City after SUV flips off road

PLANT CITY — A Seffner woman died Saturday from injuries sustained when her sports utility vehicle flipped off the road and crashed into a fence near the intersection of Tanner Road and State Road 574.Amanda K. Cepeda-Duque, 21, was traveling west on...
Published: 05/26/18