TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Sen. John Thrasher proposed a moratorium on new Internet cafes but said Wednesday that criminal allegations of racketeering and other wrongdoing in the industry should spur lawmakers to close all existing operations.
"The entire environment of the state does not need to be poisoned by these kinds of activities," said Sen. John Thrasher, a St. Augustine Republican who is chairman of the powerful Rules Committee.
Thrasher made the comments shortly after Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll resigned because of past consulting work she did for Allied Veterans of the World, an organization that is at the center of an investigation that became public Tuesday and led to the arrest of a handful of local leaders. The investigation includes allegations of illegal gambling, money laundering and misrepresentation by Allied Veterans, which held itself out as a charity but, authorities contend, was used to enrich other people.
Action News was the only local station to travel to Tallahassee. We asked Sen. Thrasher if the Internet cafe crackdown would help his push for a statewide ban on the operations.
"No doubt about it," said Sen. Thrasher. "I've had tremendous reaction today from all across the Capitol, including members of the cabinet."
Action News asked Gov. Rick Scott if he would support shutting down all sweepstakes across Florida. He wouldn't answer reporter Ryan Smith's question definitely but did say following the investigation "it's on the table."
Sen. Audrey Gibson, a Jacksonville Democrat, said an outright ban isn't necessary but more regulation is. "I think there are some steps that we can take to reign in what was the problem apparently with one particular group of Internet cafes."
Thrasher already filed SB 1030, which calls for a moratorium. He will amend that measure proposing a statewide ban in the Senate Gaming committee meeting Monday.