Florida Governor Rick Scott signed a bill into law on Wednesday that seized the operations of hundreds of Internet cafes supporting video slots and other forms of online gambling across the state.
The bill was introduced to the legislation just six days prior to being signed for approval by Scott. The swift action was a result from a three-year investigation over a non-profit organization, Allied Veterans of the World, where 57 arrests were made on charges of money laundering and racketeering.
The accused party was being investigated for mishandling $300 million after claiming that up to 70% of the business’s proceeds went toward veterans-related charities. Allied operated 49 of the Internet cafes across Florida and was found to only disperse 2% of the funds to charities with the rest of the sum funding Allied owners.
According to LegalPokerSites.com, the new bill restricts any prize paid to be $0.75 or less otherwise it will be considered illegal activity. The bill says that any computer that accepts bets, bills, codes or credit cards falls under the new ruling, but does not differentiate between brick-and-mortar gambling devices or home computers.
Although the bill was aimed at Internet cafes acting as sweepstakes businesses for slot and video poker casinos, the intent was not to close online poker rooms. However, a recent move made by ClubWPT reveals that the bill could have done just that.
ClubWPT announced that it would no longer allow players in Florida to participate in its online poker sweepstakes games, resulting in a withdrawal from the Florida market entirely.
With the bill written in such broad context, social network gamers, fantasy sports players and online poker fans could all be affected by the bill’s vague language. ClubWPT just appears to be the first Internet company to take the new law seriously.
In a recent article posted by Reuters.com, Governor Scott was quoted saying, “I think the House and Senate did the right thing to crack down on illegal gaming, especially in light of the Allied Veterans multi-state conspiracy.”
The bill was passed with a 90% majority vote, but one House member and four senators, all from southeast Florida, were said to have voted against it.
For more on the issue, check out Reuters.com.