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Action News investigates the reopening of Internet cafes

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Updated: 10/14/2013 8:58 pm
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Pete Miller was forced to close his Internet cafes back in April after the Allied Veterans of the World scandal sparked a statewide ban. But now, six Pete's Retreat Cyber Cafes are back in business.

"If I wasn't convinced this was legal, I wouldn't do it," he said.

So Action News asked Miller how is this legal when the basic operation is the same?

"We looked at that law. We hired attorneys. Our software company was involved with this. They rewrote the software to comply with the law the way it's currently written," Miller said.

On Friday, attorney Kelly Mathis was convicted of organizing an illegal gambling ring tied to Internet cafes. State prosecutor Nick Cox said the conviction should serve as a warning to other internet cafe owners.

"It's against the law. That's what it comes down to," Cox said.

Miller said his Internet cafes are different.

"We're not a nonprofit organization. We're not involved with a charity," he said.

They changed their games so they don't look like slot machines. There's no purchase necessary to play. Miller said his cyber cafes are not seedy gambling joints; they're places where the community can come together and have some good, clean fun, and if he thought they were anything else, he'd shut them down.

"I'm 53 years old with a wife and kids. I don't want to go to jail," he said.

The Jacksonville Sheriff's Office is in charge of making sure the city's Internet cafes are on the up and up. But when asked how often the agency checked them, JSO could not answer, saying it cannot discuss investigation tactics.
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