John Thrasher warns of legislation imposing moratorium on Internet cafes

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Toward the conclusion of Monday’s Senate Gaming Committee meeting, Senator John Thrasher guaranteed that the one gambling bill to be introduced in the Legislature during the upcoming session will be legislation to stop Internet cafes in their tracks.

“I can tell you for sure there will be a bill to place a moratorium on Internet cafes in Florida,” said Thrasher, a Gaming Committee member, but more pertinent, chairman of the Senate Rules Committee.

The Coalition of Internet Cafes, an industry group, reacted cautiously to the statement.

“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,” spokeswoman Sarah Bascom said in a statement. “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.”

Thrasher’s announcement followed remarks from Gaming Committee Chairman Garrett Richter who said 2013 would be a fact-finding and planning year for gambling in Florida — a time to hear all sides out — not a year in which new gaming laws would be introduced.

More from Sunshine State News’ Nancy Smith here.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.