Florida bill designed to fight gambling scandal could cost state thousands of jobs
Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) signed a bill into law on Wednesday imposing new restriction on online gambling parlors in the state that could leave thousands unemployed, the Orlando Sentinel reported.
The measure, House Bill 155, was passed by the state Senate on April 4 by a 36-4 vote, following a three-year investigation into racketeering, money laundering and other charges against a Tampa-based charity, Allied Veterans of the World. The group was found to have lied about donating the majority of its’ profits, around $300 million worth, to charity. Investigators found it only gave around 2 percent of its earnings to charity.
The scandal led to the resignation of Lieutenant Gov. Jennifer Carroll on March 12. Carroll owned a consulting firm connected to the organization and appeared in a commercial promoting it in March 2010.
Scott vowed at that point to sign the bill, but some Florida residents criticized the measure, saying it would also hurt regular entertainment centers for seniors and children while failing to curtail illegal gambling.
“It’s just going to enhance the problem because people are going to go find somewhere else or another method to get by as far as gambling goes,” Tallahassee, Florida resident Brian Hayes told WCTV-TV.
The new law effectively curtails the state’s so-called “Internet cafes” — businesses that featured online games recreating slot machines. It also forbids arcades from letting customers use cash or debit or credit cards from operating their games and from handing out gift cards as prizes. Patrons must now use change to play, and winnings are capped at 75 cents.
The Bradenton Herald reported on Wednesday that the law could also leave up to 14,000 people unemployed, as arcades and parlors try to figure out ways to work around the new regulations, including electronic versions of skill games, which are still allowed, or possible lawsuits challenging HB 155.
The Associated Press reported on Tuesday that companies collected to Allied Veterans contributed more than $1 million to state candidates and officials over the past four years, mostly in Duval County.
[Image via CNN]