Tampa council votes to ban internet cafes
TAMPA, Mar 21, 2013 (Tampa Tribune - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
The city council approved a local ban on new Internet sweepstakes cafes even though legislation banning all such operations statewide continues to make its way through the Legislature.
Assistant City Attorney Julia Mandell urged proceeding with the local ban because the state-level action remains unresolved.
"Not knowing were we are at the legislative level, I would recommend we go ahead," Mandell said.
The city ordinance blocks the opening of new businesses offering simulated gambling, a computer-based system similar to a slot machine.
That similarity is at the heart of both the local and state actions, Mandell said.
If the machine looks like a slot machine and works like a slot machine, it's reasonable to assume it is a slot machine, Mandell argued.
Tampa's rules ban the opening of new sweepstakes cafes and keeps the existing ones from moving. They also ban minors from the 13 existing cafes and block all but one of the cafes from selling alcohol. One already acquired a liquor permit.
The new rules took effect when the city council approved them today. When cafes come to the city for a new business licenses this fall, they'll have to report the number and types of computers they have and what kind of software they use.
Councilman Frank Reddick said he'd like to see the city ban all Internet cafes outright even though such blanket bans have provoked lawsuits elsewhere.
Reddick said he'll wait to see what comes out of Tallahassee before pushing ahead with a citywide ban.
"In the city of Tampa, I'm willing to support a total ban," Reddick said.
"If the Legislature doesn't ban them, I will come back with a request to ban them all."
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