Strip-Mall Casinos Thrive in Florida, But Are They Legal?


A sheriff recently reignited a debate over so-called “strip-mall casinos” when his department shut one down and declared all of them clearly illegal, reports the Orlando Sentinel. About 1,000 of the businesses have popped up in Florida in recent years, saying they are allowed under a sweepstakes provision of state law. Opponents say they are simply illegal gambling houses that attract crime and other problems and have nothing to do with sweepstakes.

Supporters say their games are no different than legal game promotions offered at fast-food restaurants. The confusion has resulted in a patchwork of enforcement across the state. “It’s abundantly clear that what they are doing is gambling,” said Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd, who shut down The Horseshoe Internet cafe on Aug. 15 and arrested two people. “I don’t know why it is some jurisdictions are more aggressive than others.” He joined a short list of officials willing to crack down on the cafes.

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