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Internet cafe ban signed by Scott; businesses must close

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Internet cafes across the state must close their doors thanks to legislation signed into law by Gov. Rick Scott April 10.

The bill banning internet cafes moved quickly through the state Legislature in wake of the criminal investigation into Allied Veterans of the World, a gambling ring disguised as a non-profit organization benefiting U.S. veterans.

The investigation led to former Lt. Gov. Jennifer Caroll’s resignation due to her past consulting for the firm.

With the cafes’ required closing, regular customers like Susan Neidlinger are upset.

“I don’t think it’s fair that one bad apple takes away from all the other ones that are legitimate,” Neidlinger said.

Gov. Scott said internet cafes shouldn’t have been operating to begin with.

For some patrons, playing the games is more than a chance to win money.

“Us women will go out together for a couple hours a day,” Neidlinger said. “It’s just good entertainment for us. I’m not spending a lot of money.”

Supporters of the storefront gambling say it’s all about the entertainment value.

“My grandma, she loves it. She goes every day,” said Richard Morris, an internet cafe customer. “I like it because there’s free snacks.”

Morris and Neidlinger can’t frequent internet cafes anymore; the ban takes effect immediately.

It affects hundreds of businesses statewide and means a loss of an estimated 3,000 jobs.

It is up to local law enforcement to see that all these businesses are shut down.

The Alachua County Sheriff’s Office and the Gainesville Police Department are having analysts look over the new law. Spot-checks will come soon.

Emily Stanton edited this story online.

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