JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Peggy Johnson, self-employed, was a regular at the Allied Veterans internet cafes.
"The most I have ever won is $600 about two months ago," said Johnson. "Ask me how much I have lost."
Johnson said it was called a sweepstakes cafe, but there is no doubt what it was.
"It is gambling, money for money," said Johnson, "You have to place cash on the card and that's what you get back."
Johnson said sometimes she would play the machines from when the doors of the business opened until they were closed. She said and there were consequences.
"It causes problems with your family, all your loved ones, everybody," she said. "It just destroys your life because you are constantly looking for that big hit."
Looking for the big hit she said cost her at least $50,000 over six years.
"I have spent as much as five, $600 a day," said Johnson. "It has drained everything, bank accounts, 401(k), everything."
We spoke with former Allied employee Erit Davis. He said his role was to keep customers like Johnson playing the machines.
"My job was to take care of the client, make sure they had a drink in their hand, stay in their seats, and money in the machines at all times," said Davis.
For Johnson, it was not only the Allied Internet cafes. She said what started out as fun turned into an addiction.
"I got sucked in deep and I look forward to regaining my life," said Johnson.
Johnson wants to know why did it took the state so long to act.
"I'm amazed that it took these many years for this to be discovered," she said, "that it was an illegal activity going on behind the doors an elaborate scheme."
She said she would like the state to put a complete end to cyber cafes, as it will help her on her way to recovery from the past six years of her life.
First Coast News