Internet cafes reopen in Jacksonville; how long will it last?

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Although Florida banned internet cafes and arrested operators early this year, new cafes have been cropping up throughout the state. The conviction of Allied Veterans of the World attorney Kelly Mathis leaves operators wondering how long it will continue, reports Jim Piggott for News4Jax.com.   

Pete’s Retreat Cyber Cafe reopened earlier this summer despite a change in state law banning Internet cafes. Pete’s business is brisk, and now 15 Internet cafes have opened in the Jacksonville area.

Pete Miller, who manages of Pete’s, told News4Jax.com he is not sure what to expect after Mathis’ conviction.

“Yeah, it’s a concern, and we are looking at it closely,” Miller told reporters. “I would still like to see them legitimize this industry, tax it and use the money for whatever, schools or whatever, as opposed to persecuting this industry.”

State Sen. John Thrasher said the state will review gaming laws, but does not know how much time will be spent on Internet cafes.

“What we passed last year, I think some people are confused about it,” Thrasher said to Piggott. “Everybody said it was to prohibit Internet cafes. What we did was tighten the laws on gambling.”

Miller now has six sites in Jacksonville, but they do not intend to expand further. He insists the company is within the law, and police have not closed them down just yet. 

Phil Ammann is a St. Petersburg-based journalist and blogger. With more than three decades of writing, editing and management experience, Phil produced material for both print and online, in addition to founding HRNewsDaily.com. His broad range includes covering news, local government and culture reviews for Patch.com, technical articles and profiles for BetterRVing Magazine and advice columns for a metaphysical website, among others. Phil has served as a contributor and production manager for SaintPetersBlog since 2013. He lives in St. Pete with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul and can be reached at phil@floridapolitics.com and on Twitter @PhilAmmann.