Push to ban Internet cafes in Florida gains momentum

3:22 PM, Mar 14, 2013   |    comments
Lt. Governor Jennifer Carroll
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Tallahassee, Florida - State lawmakers are moving quickly to consider legislation that would ban Internet cafes following a three-year investigation that alleges widespread criminal activity by one of the main operators in Florida.

Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll resigned Tuesday after it came to light that she had handled public relations for the nonprofit group Allied Veterans of the World in 2009 and 2010 when she was a member of the Florida House.

Allied Veterans is accused of racketeering and money laundering, and failing to contribute proceeds to help veterans even though that was supposed to be its main mission.

About 50 of the company's Internet cafes in Florida generated nearly $300 million over the past four years, but authorities say less than two percent of the cash went to charity.

Now the House and Senate are pushing bills to ban Internet cafes, and Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam is drafting his own legislation to help the effort.

Putnam says he has always had concerns about Internet cafes and thinks they should be banned.

"I think that the investigation into Allied Veterans and the widespread corruption and racketeering that it has exposed has reinforced the need for the law to be clarified and for all of them to be banned. They're clearly a gateway into organized crime and racketeering as this investigation proves and I'm hopeful the Legislature will take swift action."

Gov. Rick Scott says banning Internet cafes should be considered.

"I think with this news, everything is on the table. I look forward to working with the House and the Senate to review this but I think all this, that issue is on the table."

Putnam's office participated in the gambling investigation that led to the arrests of nearly 60 people associated with Allied Veterans of the World.

Putnam first sued the group two years ago because the group failed to document that it was donating money to charity.

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