Latvala: Internet café ban leading to “unintended consequences”

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State Senator Jack Latvala told a legislative committee Monday that Florida’s ban on Internet cafes is suffering from the law of unforeseen consequences.

In a story in the Tampa Tribune Fresh Squeezed Politics blog, James L. Rosica writes that Latvala based his vote on assurances that the law would not affect games like “claw machines” often seen in WalMart, recreation centers and truck stops.

“We went after Internet cafés,” Latvala said, “but we need to look very carefully at any unintended consequences of what we did.”

The law closed more than 1,000 businesses that offered online computer games simulating slot machines, after a widespread investigation of a leading Internet café operator, the charity Allied Veterans of the World. The investigation also prompted several arrests and the resignation of Lieutenant Gov. Jennifer Carroll.

The ban also affected many South Florida “senior arcades,” which are now required to have only coin-operated games of skill, with payoffs limited to 75 cents. 

Latvala told reporters that owners of senior arcades have begun filing lawsuits against children’s pizza parlor franchise Chuck E. Cheese and adult arcade chain Dave & Busters.

 “I think they’re just trying to make a point,” Latvala said. “Because they’re out of business, they want everybody else to be out of business, too.” 

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.