Articles Posted in Gaming Crimes

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In the Jacksonville, Florida area, we have noticed more and more businesses, known as internet cafes, pop up around Jacksonville, Florida. While I have never actually visited one of the locations, I was curious as to exactly what kind of businesses they were, particularly because the one closest to the Law Office of Shorstein & Lasnetski has tinted windows and a security guard outside. Usually, tinted windows and security guards mean adult movies/accessories or gambling.

We noticed a recent article that reported Florida Governor Rick Scott said these internet cafes should be illegal. Apparently, Governor Scott recently spoke about them with reporters. He noted there are loopholes in the law which allow them to exist throughout Florida. He indicated more than 1,000 of the internet cafes have opened in Florida since 2006. The internet cafes offer electronic sweepstakes games that are legal under current Florida law.

In response to this issue, it appears the government wants to legislate how people spend their time and money and increase its authority. There are currently two proposed laws moving through the Florida legislature that would ban internet cafes in Florida. The proposed law that would ban internet cafes appears likely to pass in the House, although the Senate is taking a more job-friendly approach and looking to regulate the internet cafes and force them to pay a fee to operate.

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In Florida, it is illegal to have gambling operations that reward customers with cash, alcohol or cigarettes. Violation of the Florida gambling laws can subject an offender to administrative penalties (such as the loss of a business license and/or licenses to sell alcohol and tobacco) and criminal penalties as well as seizure and forfeiture of gambling apparatus and proceeds from gambling activity.

Recently, the Division of Alcohol, Beverages and Tobacco (ATB), the Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR) and the local police department jointly investigated suspected gambling operations in Port Charlotte, Florida, according to a news release on the DBPR website. Those law enforcement officials seized video gaming machines at local restaurants and bars and made several arrests for the crime of keeping a gambling house, which is a third degree felony.

Any person or business that keeps gambling machines that pay cash or allow the customer to exchange a ticket for cash, alcohol or tobacco may be subject to such an investigation and the corresponding penalties and seizures. These investigations typically begin with undercover law enforcement officers playing the games and receiving the cash, alcohol or tobacco rewards and usually end with a raid, arrests and the seizure of all gaming machines and whatever cash and proceeds law enforcement officials want to say are related to the gambling operations.

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Earlier this week, police in Nassau County (just north of Jacksonville, Florida) raided what they alleged to be two illegal casinos- Cabana Gold Vegas Games in Callahan and Treasure Bay in Fernandina Beach, according to a www.News4Jax.com article. Nassau County police officers claimed that the alleged casinos were paying customers who won playing the casino games in cash, which is illegal under Florida law. Giving the winners of these games a ticket that can be exchanged for certain merchandise is legal, but the law prohibits cash, alcohol or cigarettes as rewards for the games. According to Nassau County police, the two alleged casinos are no longer operating after the recent raids.

Florida law prohibits gambling in several different ways. It is a third degree felony to keep gaming tables, a gaming room or a gaming house for the purpose of illegal gambling. Whoever engages in gambling for money or other thing of value is guilty of a misdemeanor. There are certain exceptions for cardrooms, the lottery, charitable gaming and others. Those who violate gaming laws are subject to criminal penalties and seizure and forfeiture of gaming paraphernalia as well as proceeds from illegal gaming operations.

A list of Florida gaming laws can be found here.