HOLIDAY — A year ago, Pasco deputies raided four Internet sweepstakes cafes and seized some 200 computers, telling the owners they must shut down their operations.
Two of the cafes stayed open.
So this week, deputies arrested the owners of those cafes, accusing them of running gambling operations.
Charles Bartlett, 69, owns Achievers Internet Sweepstakes in Holiday.
He was arrested Wednesday on a charge of maintaining a gambling establishment and 45 counts of owning a slot machine, according to the Pasco County Sheriff's Office. He was released Thursday from the Land O'Lakes jail after posting $25,000 bail.
Tami Patel, 41, owner of an Internet cafe at 11720 U.S. 19 in Hudson, was arrested Thursday on a charge of maintaining a gambling establishment and 45 counts of owning a slot machine. She remained Thursday at the jail in lieu of $9,500 bail.
Customers who visit sweepstakes cafes purchase Internet time that they use to access casino-style sweepstakes games on computers in the cafes. Points won in the games can be redeemed for cash in the cafes.
Owners of such businesses have argued they are legal, and that they are simply using sweepstakes games to promote their business.