More Internet cafes paying out cash


MAYPORT, Fla. – Four months ago, the state shut down Internet cafes in Florida, claiming they were illegal gambling sites. But now more of the businesses are reopening in Jacksonville.

Pete's Retreat Cyber Cafe was first to pay out cash after reopening its doors on the West side three weeks ago.

So far, the city has let it stay open. Now Lucky's Sweepstakes on University Boulevard, just east of Interstate 95, is allowing people to walk out with cash.

The owners have changed the software of the machines that they say brings them line with state law for sweepstakes. They say they are not slots and it's not gambling.

At Pete's cyber Cafe on the westside we talked to people who were winning and taking home cash

Barbara Yates said she won $120 at Pete's.

"I don't really thinks it's gambling. I think it's just fun, really. It's not gambling," Yates said.

That will be up to the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office to decide. It investigates gambling operations and at this point can't talk about the recent reopening of the cafes because it says it's an active investigation.

The same word is coming from the city, which licensed the gaming room.But the manager at Pete's believes they are going to be just fine.

"From what we are hearing right now, the city is going to leave us alone," said Pete Miller. "They are looking into our claims of legality, which they will find we are and they are not going to touch us at this point. And they are going to leave us until they have to."

No one from the city or Sheriff's Office will confirm that.

State Sen. John Thrasher said when he returns to Tallahassee he will address the issue. He said the law needs to be tweaked to keep the game rooms from paying out cash prizes. But the manager Miller said the Internet cafes are the winners.

"We are looking at a couple more locations in Jacksonville and hope to be open in the next few weeks," he said.

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