On Thursday, Pinellas County Sheriff's Deputies shut down three internet sweepstakes cafes. Showing up at the places of business with warrants, the deputies seized nearly 200 computers and nearly $20,000 in cash.
The raids, which took place before noon did not result in any immediate arrests, however a police investigation is ongoing.
Investigations by the Sheriff began after residents of Largo reported their belief that online gambling was taking place at the three suspected businesses: Palm Harbor Internet Cafe, Southern Play Arcade, and Reel Fun. The Sheriff's department had sent letters to the business owners, asking them to shut down within 30 days or take the risk of being investigated.
Proponents of the sweepstakes centers in Florida claim it is a way for them to go and enjoy themselves with a chance of winning money. The shops themselves counter gambling claims by saying they abide by general sweepstakes rules and have a set amount amount of winnings put aside for every $1,000 wagered; a key difference between a sweepstakes and gambling.