Weatherford: Look for Internet cafe moratorium

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The House will likely support a drive to impose a moratorium on new Internet cafes, House Speaker Will Weatherford said Thursday, adding steam to the idea with the legislative session five days away.

“I would anticipate legislation in the House getting momentum with regard to at least a moratorium,” Weatherford told reporters after announcing a smartphone app for the House. Legislation to deal with the cafes, which offer sweepstakes in the view of supporters but something akin to slot machines in the view of opponents, died in 2012 because of a disagreement between the House and the Senate over whether to ban or regulate the outlets. Weatherford seemed to pour cold water on the idea of a ban. “I’m not sure if there’s an appetite for that in the Senate,” he said. “You’d have to talk to the senators about that.”

Legislation has been introduced in both chambers (HB 951, SB 1030) that would bar any new Internet cafes until July 1, 2015, to allow lawmakers time to consider major gambling legislation expected to emerge in the 2014 legislative session. Current Internet cafes would still be allowed to operate.

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.