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Deputies raid three sweepstakes cyber cafes in Pinellas

TBO.com
Published:   |   Updated: March 20, 2013 at 01:55 PM

Pinellas County Sheriff's deputies raided three sweepstakes cyber cafés on Thursday, seizing $20,000 in cash and 198 computers.

The Internet cafés have been a bone of contention with authorities and some community activists have complained the cafés offer internet gambling.

Sheriff's deputies investigated and served search warrants at Southern Play Arcade, 10623 117th Drive North, Largo; Reel Fun, 36157 U.S. Highway 19 North, Palm Harbor; and Palm Harbor Internet Café, 38541 U.S. Highway 19 North, Palm Harbor.

No arrests were made but the cases remains under investigation.

Proponents of the cafés say they run a sweepstakes-type game rather than a game of chance, and the loophole keeps them on the right side of the law. Cafés have been challenged by law enforcement in Marion and Seminole counties, where cases have ended in acquittals, dismissals or are under appeal.

There are roughly 1,000 sweepstakes cafés in Florida.

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