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Sumter County cracking down on internet cafes as residents keep up pressure on officials

Sumter County cracking down on internet cafes as residents keep up pressure on officials

Sumter County has begun a crackdown on Internet cafes as a cafe in Lake Banasovki faces temporary closure.

Bradley Arnold told commissioners Tuesday night that violations were found at three coffee shops during searches by law enforcement and the sheriff’s office. The commissioners also approved operating permits for five coffee shops.

Internet cafes, also known as adult arcades, avoid Florida gambling laws by offering cash or prizes to customers who play well in online games.

Under the new county law, coffee shops must offer renewable one-year operating permits. They must also meet standards that include hiring security guards, installing security systems, and closing between midnight and 8 a.m.

“If there is anything horrible, we will cite them for possible revocation,” Arnold said.

Residents of Lake Banasovki talk about the problems their neighborhood cafes are causing, including drug use, theft, and loitering.

Arnold said the Fun Times Café, which operates at the former Lake Panasoffkee Moose Lodge, is facing temporary closure until the violations are corrected.

The cafe was cited for inappropriate signage, insufficient lighting in the parking area, and a lack of criminal background checks following searches on March 14 and March 23. A complaint was also received that the café still advertised that it was open 24 hours and that a recreational vehicle was parked outside.

At the Gold Rush Arcade, also at Lake Banasovki, citations included improper signage and a fully lit parking area. An inspection at 1 a.m. found the business closed in accordance with county law.

The Good Time Cafe in Lady Lake was cited for having no armed security on duty after 5 p.m. Inappropriate signage and incomplete criminal background checks.

Arnold said 11 internet cafes have applied for operating permits, and commissioners review and approve many of them at each meeting.

Commissioners approved permits for four cafes Tuesday night, including the Lady Dog Cafe in Bushnell, the Villaggio of Lady Lake, Sunshine 10 by Lady Lake, and the Senior Lake Center in Lady Lake.

Despite the repression, residents of Lake Banasovki called for the closure of cafes.

“All these cafés are tired,” said Leonard Whitaker. “These cafes are not good for interrupting us. Someone has to wake up.”

But Audrey Williams of Lady Lake said Il Villaggio provides a safe gathering place for entertainment and has no crime issues.

“I think it’s a great place to go,” she said.

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