ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. -- Another legislative session went by without any action on proposed regulations or bans on so-called Internet cafes, the small strip-mall businesses that some compare to gambling.
Now, First Coast News has uncovered a lawsuit one of the major Internet cafe operators, Allied Veterans, has filed against the state.
The lawsuit, initially filed in St. Johns County before being moved to Leon County, seeks injuctive relief, asking a judge to declare that Allied Veterans' locations do not have to provide financial information to the state.
They are suing Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, since his department oversees charitable organizations. Allied Veterans claims they are not a charitable organization and don't have to turn over financial records, which would reveal exactly how much the businesses take in.
The Internet cafes offer "sweepstakes" which they say are like the McDonald's Monopoly game. But critics are it's gambling, since the locations sell "Internet access" that is used to play games online.
Even Florida's pro-business governor, Rick Scott, thinks the locations are bad for Florida.
He was hoping the legislature would pass significant restrictions or an outright ban during the last legislative session, but that didn't happen.
"I think it should have been make sure we don't have these Internet cafes, but as you know I'm simply the governor. I work with the house and senate on what laws should be passed," Gov. Scott told First Coast News