Tampa, FL -- The Tampa City Council voted Thursday to ban any future internet sweepstakes cafes while establishing strict regulations for the 13 businesses already operating in the city.
However, the state could still vote to ban all such businesses and if they don't council member Frank Reddick says he'll revisit the ordinance to ensure all sweepstakes cafes in Tampa are shut down. Reddick says the businesses are just a front for illegal gambling.
"I'm happy with (the ordinance) at this point but I... want to see a total ban on all sweepstakes operations in the city of Tampa," Reddick told reporters after Thursday's vote.
Under the city's new guidelines, the 13 sweepstakes cafes that will be grandfathered in can't move, add any additional machines, apply for a liquor license if they don't currently have one and they can't allow minors inside their establishment.
Richard Ratcliff is the owner of Bit Bar, one of the establishments that will be impacted by the new ordinance. "I worry that (the new rules) are a precursor of something larger," he told 10 News.
Ratcliff, who opened his downtown business last year, also feels the recent raids on Allied Veterans of the World Internet Cafes have painted all sweepstakes cafes in a bad light. "Because of one bad egg, the rest of us got judged," he said.
The new ordinance will take effect as soon as the mayor signs it into law.