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Law enforcement probe provokes Senate to take up bill to ban Internet cafes

In the wake of the sweeping federal and state investigation and numerous allegations of illicit gambling, Senate President Don Gaetz and Gaming Committee Chairman Garrett Richter have announced they will introduce legislation on Monday to ban Internet cafes. 

"What's happened in the next couple of days is it's expedited the thinking going forward,'' Richter told the Herald/Times, noting that they can no longer wait until next year to take up a ban. "I don't think this comes as a surprise to anybody. The only thing suprising is the timing." 

Here's Gaetz's statement:

“The Senate Gaming Committee will meet on Monday, March 18, for the purpose of considering legislation to ban Internet cafes in Florida. I fully support such a ban as a precursor to additional legislation that may result from the comprehensive gaming review the Senate Gaming Committee has initiated.

“Beginning in November of 2011, I began challenging claims from those who encouraged me to support Internet cafes on the grounds that they contribute to charitable organizations.  Despite my questioning, I never received any credible information from any Internet cafe proponent indicating that these facilities were providing any meaningful contributions to charitable or veterans causes.  For that reason and others, I have consistently opposed Internet cafes, including co-introducing Senate Bill 428, the Simulated Gambling Prohibition and Community Protection Act during the 2012 Legislative Session.  

“During the 2012 election cycle, when I headed Senate Campaigns, I declined to meet with Allied Veterans and refused campaign contributions from the organization.  I have a practice of not accepting contributions to my own campaigns from gaming entities, and I did not knowingly accept campaign contributions from any Internet cafes for my own campaign or on behalf of the Republican Senate Majority.  However, in light of recent allegations that the Allied Veterans organization was operating with upwards of 40 subsidiary entities and under different and perhaps misleading names, I have asked for a top to bottom review of my own campaign contributions as well as funds raised by the Republican Senate Majority for the Republican Party of Florida during the 2012 cycle for which I had leadership responsibility.”