The Florida Legislature has been busy the past few weeks, taking proactive steps to outlaw internet sweepstakes cafes in the state of Florida.
Many of these facilities were operating under the guise of benefitting charitable organizations, including the Allied Veterans Foundation. An investigation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement uncovered that a minimal amount was actually going to the charities with the vast majority of the profits from these operations being diverted for personal and private gain. The venues tried to claim that they serviced the elderly as a social hall of sorts, offering food and drink and a safe gathering place for senior citizens. In reality, they were allowed to prey upon the elderly with no regulations governing the amount of money that was required to be paid back to the patrons. In addition, these so called amusement only centers were illegally offering cash and gift cards in excess of legal limits. The chasm between the highly regulated casinos in Dade and Broward County and the virtually ignored illegal “amusement” centers was certainly brought to light. At the regulated facilities in South Florida a minimum of 85% of the monies played in slot machines must be returned to patrons. A close look at the statistics maintained by the Florida Division of Business and Professional Regulation shows that all the facilities return over 90% to their patrons with some returning close to 94%.
This was not the case in the unregulated facilities where some claims have surfaced that as little as 25% of the cash placed in the machines was being returned to patrons. The bottom line is that the State of Florida is protecting their citizens in the highly regulated Dade and Broward voter approved facilities and the truth about the internet cafes has finally been revealed and will now be dealt with accordingly.