Palmetto to consider extending moratorium on Internet, sweepstakes cafes

jdeleon@bradenton.comMarch 2, 2013 

PALMETTO -- The Palmetto City Commission will have the first reading of an ordinance that would extend the current moratorium on Internet and sweepstakes gaming cafes and consider whether to have a public hearing before a vote later this month.

City officials are hoping to get guidance from the state Legislature before making any decisions on permanent regulation for the businesses, which some argue violate state prohibitions on gambling.

"We are still looking at possible impacts at our level," city attorney Mark Barnebey said.

City officials are monitoring any effects the cafes may have on traffic, crime and noise pollution.

The city ordinance that implemented the moratorium was first passed Jan. 9, 2012, and extended Aug. 20. The extension is set to expire March 31.

The proposal would extend the moratorium to April 30, 2014, giving state lawmakers time to address the issue.

Palmetto has two Internet and sweepstakes gaming cafes that acquired conditional use permits for recreational and amusement services in 2011 prior to the original moratorium going into place.

Florida Commercial Laundry Equipment Inc., on Eighth Avenue West and 15th Street, was granted a two-year permit that is set to expire in October.

Barnebey says they will be able to renew their permit.

Hotspins on Hasko just north of U.S. 301 was granted a five-year permit, however, so it will not need to renew until 2016.

"Discussions throughout the state have been, was this gaming or not?" City Clerk Jim Freeman said.

The legality of these cafes and how to regulate them is being addressed by municipalities across the state, yet there is no clear consensus.

"A number of jurisdictions have outlawed them and a couple of them are not regulating them at all," Barnebey said.

Pending Monday's vote, the public hearing on whether to extend the moratorium will be at 7 p.m. March 18.

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