Bay area internet cafes closing after ban signed - WFLA News Channel 8

Bay area internet cafes closing after ban signed

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Workers at Busch Bingo in Tampa dismantle their machines, which are now illegal. Workers at Busch Bingo in Tampa dismantle their machines, which are now illegal.
A Tampa cafe pleads with voters to call the Governor and tell him to change his mind about the ban. A Tampa cafe pleads with voters to call the Governor and tell him to change his mind about the ban.
TAMPA, FL (WFLA) -

Internet sweepstakes cafes in the Tampa Bay area started shutting down shortly after Gov. Rick Scott signed a ban on the popular gaming sites this week.

At Busch Bingo in Tampa, workers were tearing down rows of computers Thursday and preparing to remove equipment from the site.

"Right now we're in the process of shutting down. We've got to pull all of our machines out of here," said Robert Gaskill, an executive with PM Consulting, which manages that café and several others. "It's been a rough 24 hours."

Gaskill said about 10 people worked at the site on Busch Boulevard.

"We've had to tell quite a few employees, let them know that they no longer have jobs today," he said.

The closings appeared to start soon after the governor signed the bill banning the cafes on Wednesday.

The Hernando County Sheriff's Office sent out deputies on Thursday and a spokeswoman said "most, if not all" of the cafes were already closed.

In Tampa, law enforcement was still determining how enforcement will play out. The police chief and the city attorney were meeting to discuss the most effective way to enforce the new law, a TPD spokeswoman said.

The owner of downtown Tampa business Bit Bar, Richard Ratcliff, said he was still trying to figure out what the new law meant for his business. Bit Bar operates as both a bar and an Internet sweepstakes café with a bank of computers along one wall.

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