Article exposes criminal past of some who testified before legislative committee
(Tallahassee) – One by one they came to the podium to testify against a bill to ban internet cafés and other gambling establishments that skirt Florida law. And though they tried to distance their operations from now-disgraced Allied Veterans of the World during their testimony before the Senate Gaming Committee, according to the Miami Herald, some of those who testified apparently have something in common with some Allied Vets’ leaders – a checkered criminal past.
“Today’s revelations are no surprise, because throughout history gambling and crime have been close cousins,” said No Casinos President, John Sowinski. “We are glad the Legislature is poised to shut down strip-mall gambling operations – and make a sober assessment of gambling policy in our state.”
In the coming days, the Florida Senate is expected to vote on the bill to shut down internet cafés and other gambling establishments that skirt Florida law. The Florida House of Representatives has already passed such a bill.
Below is a brief excerpt from the article, which initially ran in The Miami Herald on April 4th, 2013:
Convicts Slip Past Internet Cafe Law in FloridaThe Miami Herald Mary Ellen Klas April 4, 2013
TALLAHASSEE — Three operators of Internet cafes stood before the Florida Senate Gaming Committee last month and urged them to have mercy on their industry.
They told them of the job-creating potential of their business, their practice of offering free meals and free food to patrons, and how their gaming centers were favorite destinations for senior citizens.
What they didn’t tell them about was their past brushes with the law — from larceny, grand theft, check kiting and witness tampering to arrests for operating illegal gambling houses in violation of Florida law.
Under Florida law, owners and operators of Internet cafes do not have to pass any criminal background checks to be in business. And only those companies that operate electronic sweepstakes games with prizes valued at more than $5,000 must register with the state Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. Adult arcade operators do not have to register at all.
“The law is very vague, put in place for McDonald’s monopoly games,’’ said Erin Gillespie, a department spokeswoman. “It was never meant to be a loophole for gambling. The law doesn’t have a lot of teeth to it.”
Read the full article online here.