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City puts moratorium on Internet sweepstakes cafes

Gambling concerns bring temporary ban on gaming businesses

POSTED: February 28, 2012 12:33 a.m.

Until they can figure out how they'll affect the community, Gainesville officials have banned Internet sweepstakes cafes for now.

The Gainesville City Council placed a temporary moratorium last week on the burgeoning businesses, giving city staff 180 days to study the possible benefits and negative effects of having the businesses in the city.

The moratorium came at the request of City Marshal Debbie Jones and Police Chief Brian Kelly.

Kelly said the city has already had two requests for the businesses, which he said draw people in to buy cards for Internet or phone time that promise prize opportunities.

He compared the cafe games to McDonald's Monopoly games, but said they fall into a gray area of the state's gambling statutes.

The moratorium approved last week by the council states that the cafes "circumvent state gaming laws by using advances in electronic, mechanical and computer technology to allow customers to gamble using veiled schemes."

It also claims the businesses could create a public safety concern.

Kelly and Jones are expected to use the next six months studying how much of a concern those businesses might be.

Currently, the city's zoning codes do not recognize the businesses and therefore doesn't create a place for them in the city limits.

 



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