Allied investigation could push lawmakers to close internet cafe - FOX 13 News

Allied investigation could push lawmakers to close internet cafes

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TAMPA (FOX 13) -

The investigation into Allied Veterans is driving a push for change in Tallahassee, and it could lead to a ban on internet cafes across Florida.

Supporters say the establishments offer legal sweepstakes; critics claim they run illegal gambling operations.

Allied Veterans of the World is one of the key players in the Internet cafe industry in Florida. It is accused of collecting nearly $300 million in illegal gambling proceeds, then misleading the public by only giving a small percentage to charity.

"Many of those in Jacksonville opened their hearts to Internet cafes because they believed that the money spent in them was going to a great cause: betterment of the lives of the many veterans who live in Jacksonville, said State Rep Charles McBurney, (R) Jacksonville.

But if the allegations that have been raised in the last few days are true, and we must allow our system of justice to determine the voracity of those allegations, then many citizens of Jacksonville were deceived,

Politicians across the state have accepted big campaign donations from Allied Veterans and its related interests. The Florida Republican Party received nearly $300,000. The Florida Democratic Party received more than $100,000. The Associated Press puts the total at $1.1 million donated to state campaign accounts in past three years.

LINK: Other politicians who received donations from Allied Veterans

A legislative panel just approved a bill to ban Internet cafes. It advanced by a vote of 15 to 1. House and Senate leaders say they could bring this to a vote and deliver a passed bill to Governor Scott this legislative session.

"This House of Representatives has acted in the past to shut down the establishments that are preying on the elderly and the poor in our communities, and it's time that we finally are able to hopefully get a bill that will pass both the House and the Senate and be signed by the governor," said State Rep. Dana Young, (R) Tampa.

Allied Veterans of the World launched and funds a shelter for homeless veterans (Allied Veterans Center). Several politicians, including Congressman Ander Cresnhaw have publicly promoted Allied Veterans. But they appear to have focused their praise on the work of the shelter and other relief efforts for veterans. If that funding for those efforts dries up, some veterans could feel the impact.

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