State Sen. John Thrasher wants Internet cafe moratorium

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Republican Florida State Sen. John Thrasher announced Monday that he plans to file legislation aimed at keeping additional "Internet cafes" from opening.

"Not trying to put anyone that already has an existing license out of business, it would allow any existing internet cafe that were in operation before the moratorium to continue," said Thrasher.

Thrasher, from St. Augustine, made the announcement during a Senate Gaming Committee Meeting Monday afternoon. Thrasher said broader dialogue and in-depth studies need to be done on the overall impact of the cafes on Florida's communities. 

"There's enough concern out there that we should take step back, call a time out, take a look at the entire area of Internet cafe as well as other areas of gaming and make some policy changes. That's what we're trying to get at," said Thrasher.

The machines offer internet time or phone cards, but operators also profit from sweep-stake style games, which are similar to slot machines.  Opponents maintain the games are a form of illegal gambling while proponents argue that they're operating within the parameters of the law. 

The Coalition for Internet Cafes released the following statement to the media Monday evening:

"From the beginning, we have advocated for increased regulation over an outright ban, agreed that technology has outpaced current law and that there may be some bad operators in the industry. Depending upon exact details of a proposed moratorium bill, if it allows for existing law abiding operators and employers to continue in their existing capacity, we believe our coalition will support legislation along these lines."

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