Police raids that shut down four Jackson County, Florida internet cafes two weeks ago on gambling allegations received the support of the county's Grand Jury hearing this week.
In a presentment Monday the jury labeled “internet cafes” as unlawful, a public nuisance, and a disgrace.
“It's clear the people of Jackson County will not sit still for a continued influx of these internet casinos. They don't appreciate gambling there,” State Attorney Glenn Hess told local station WJHG Channel 7 after the presentment.
Lawyers representing the online gambling businesses claimed they were operating within Florida's current laws as sweepstakes similar to those offered at fast-food restaurants. But Hess said it's not the same.
“We now have the evidence to show it was a sham, it was a joke. They weren't selling anything that anyone wanted. They were just running a gambling house,” said Hess.
Florida law states that if any business offers a prize greater than $5,000, it must register with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.
According to the jury's findings, none of the casinos in Jackson County are so registered.
Hess said the spotlight is now on Jackson County.
“I've had a number of calls from law enforcement and reporters in different parts of the state where they're fighting the same battle and they've asked for copies (of the grand jury's report),” said Hess.
All four of the internet cafes in Jackson County remained closed on Monday.