Internet Cafés Now IllegalApr 11th, 2013 | By Staff | Category: Community News, Front Page
Internet cafes have been springing up all over the state for the past couple of years, but that is now a thing of the past.
Internet cafés are now illegal in Florida.
Governor Rick Scott signed a bill Wednesday that bans up to 1,000 storefront operations across the state.
The new law took effect immediately after Scott signed the bill.
Legislators voted overwhelmingly last week to approve the ban. It was a quick response to a recent scandal that led to dozens of arrests and the lieutenant governor’s resignation.
It’s up to local law enforcement to enforce the new law, however, their hands will be practically tied to do so, for at least a day or so.
Monticello Police Department Chief Fred Mosley said, “We will comply with what the Governor says. I really don’t think we will have a problem here with shutting them down. I have officers out patrolling, and the cafés are closed. They were cashing people’s tickets out. They anticipated that the Governor was going to sign it. They are already getting ready to be in compliance with it, and shutting down their operations.”
Jefferson County Sheriff David Hobbs said that he did receive notification that Governor Scott had signed the bill, and that it went into effect immediately after he signed it.
“I have to wait and see what the law officially says,” said Sheriff Hobbs. “And then I will do anything I can to enforce the law.” He explained that the wording for the new law is in the Capitol building, and that law enforcement agencies will get a copy of the new law so they can begin enforcing it. “I’m assuming that nothing will go into effect until after the Legislative session,” he added. “We will be waiting.”
There were approximately four Internet cafes in the city of Madison, one of them just opening as little as one week ago. There are no Internet cafes in the county.
Madison Police Department Chief Gary Calhoun said there are currently two that are operational in the city. “They have come and gone. One of them closed when law enforcement did that big seep, which resulted in multiple arrests and the resignation of the State’s Lieutenant Governor.
Madison County Sheriff Ben Stewart said, “We have to receive notification, and receive a copy of the actual wording of the law, so we know what we can and cannot do..
“I will do all I can to shut them down. They are nothing more than fronts for illegal gambling. A lot of grocery money, children’s clothing money, and people’s money for bills, is thrown away in those places. I have been against them from the start.
“Once we see the law, and it is clear, if it gives me the authority to shut the Internet cafés down, then that’s what I’ll do,” he concluded.