Tuesday, November 21, 2017
Public safety

Palm Harbor sweepstakes cafe operator sought by Pinellas sheriff turns herself in

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A Sanford woman sought by police for operating an Internet cafe in Palm Harbor that investigators said was a front for an illegal gambling house turned herself in to the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office on Wednesday.

Megan Crisante, 23, surrendered around 1:15 p.m. at the Pinellas County Jail. She was in the company of an attorney and immediately posted bail, according to the Sheriff's Office.

An arrest warrant was issued for Crisante last week in connection with her operation of the Palm Harbor Internet Cafe, a "sweepstakes cafe" where patrons play slot machine-like computer games for cash winnings. She is charged with operating a gambling establishment — a felony — and 45 misdemeanor counts of possession of coin-operated devices.

Proprietors of such cafes argue they are allowed under state law because they offer sweepstakes contests and not gambling. The Sheriff's Office has cracked down on the cafes, claiming they are thinly veiled gaming establishments.

Peter Jamison can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 445-4157.

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