House Panel To Seek To Power Down Internet Cafés

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Poker hand with chips and laptop computer (Source: John Lamb via Getty Images)

Poker hand with chips and laptop computer (Source: John Lamb via Getty Images)

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TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami) – A House committee will take up a bill Friday that aims to knock Internet cafes offline, reports the News Service of Florida.

The House Select Committee on Gaming said the measure seeks to stop the “deleterious effects of the proliferation of electronic machines and devices used for maintaining an ongoing place of gambling or gaming,” according to a staff analysis posted online Thursday. 

Lawmakers are rushing to pass the measure (HB 155) after a statewide crackdown this week led to the arrests of 57 people and the closing of at least 49 Internet cafes, amid allegations of crimes such as racketeering and money laundering.

The investigation also prompted the resignation of Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll. The former lieutenant governor had worked as a consultant for a group that was targeted in the crackdown.

The House bill would bar electronic or mechanical devices that are used in relation to certain types of charitable drawings and game promotions, closing avenues that Internet café operators have used to argue that their computerized games are legal.

According to the analysis, the bill would also update the definition of slot machines.

The Senate Gaming Committee is expected to move toward closing down Internet cafes during a meeting Monday.

(TM and © 2013 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and © 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The News Service of Florida contributed to this report.)

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