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Issue Date: Vol. 51, No. 7, July 2011, Posted On: 6/19/2011

Florida Lawmaker Exits Sweeps Game Business; Miami Arcades Raided

Marcus Webb
sweepstakes video game, Internet cafe, amusement business, State Rep. Peter Nehr, Fun City Internet sweepstakes café, operator, Crisante

PINELLAS COUNTY, FL -- State Rep. Peter Nehr (R-Palm Harbor) shut down his Fun City Internet sweepstakes café on May 27 and sold it after just a few weeks as an operator-legislator.

The sale came after the county sheriff sent cease-and-desist letters to four sweeps operators on May 13, advising that Internet sweepstakes games are illegal gambling devices.

Nehr had earlier contended the machines were legal based on the outcome of a courtroom trial of another operator. | SEE STORY

The new owner of the business is the Crisante family, which beat gambling charges stemming from their operation of another sweeps café in Marion County last fall. The Crisantes say their machines are fully compliant with state laws.

Other sweeps game operators targeted by the county sheriff have responded to the May 13 letter in various ways. One fraternal club removed the games in question. Another operator sought a court injunction against the sheriff, but a county judge denied his motion. Two other operators moved their sweeps cafés to incorporated cities within the county that are not under the county sheriff’s jurisdiction.

Separately, Miami-Dade police raided two videogame arcades in Westchester, FL, on June 7. Officers of the organized-crime division seized 30 videogames they said were illegal slot machines. The raids followed extensive undercover investigations, officials said.

Arcade raids in Miami-Dade have been controversial since they became a campaign issue in the mayoral race last fall.

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