Internet cafes raided in Florida

Owners accused of running illegal online gambling operations

WFTV in Florida reports that three Internet cafes in Marion County were closed Wednesday following what investigators claimed was a number of complaints from local residents.

Members of Marion County's multi-agency drug enforcement team, which also investigates gambling cases, were involved in the raids, and confiscated what they claimed were gaming machines and computer equipment.

Investigators said that the operations were illegal in that money was changing hands on games of chance.

"There was probable cause that gambling laws in the state of Florida were being violated," Sgt. Angy Scoble of the Ocala Police Department said.

The Internet cafes are understood to have operated by selling Internet time on phone cards, which is then used to play games of chance that are called sweepstakes. Investigators also claim that the cards can be used to win back minutes and those minutes sold back for cash.

The owners of the now shutdown operations face charges for possession of gambling devices, keeping a gaming house and for conducting an illegal lottery. Investigators said these types of businesses are known to bring in as much as $17 000 a day.

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