JACKSONVILLE, Fla. --The clock is ticking to the signing of a bill that would ban all internet cafes in Florida.
Governor Rick Scott is expected to sign Senate Bill 1030 any day now. So this weekend, sweepstakes café employees, customers and surrounding businesses were left to wonder what will happen to them
Sweepstakes customers like John Angerson and his wife invest time and money into internet cafes.
"I've been around to all of them and there's a lot of people that go to these. There's going to be a lot of disappointed people," Angerson said.
Angerson says he spends several hours playing sweepstakes every weekend with his wife. He says he is a Navy veteran and used to play at Allied Veterans of the World cafes until an alleged racketeering scandal involving the organization shut down the cafes and led to dozens of arrests last month. Angerson says he's been to many cafes on the First Coast and is against the impending ban.
"It's going to hurt a lot of people, when he signs that it's going to put a lot of people out of work," said Angerson.
Over 50 internet cafes on the First Coast are listed online, each one has an average of about 10 employees that would all be out of work if Governor Rick Scott signs the bill by April 12th, but the effect will also reach surrounding businesses.
Owner of Royal Time Sweepstakes Elia Hawara says he pays 1600 dollars each month to advertise his business in local magazines. He says he's already had to pull his advertisements for the next month because he may be shut down. His sweepstakes café closing will also affect a local take-out restaurant.
"They order every week," said Lisa Lin, manager at China Dragon on University Boulevard.
Every Friday and Saturday, Royal Time Sweepstakes orders over 200 dollars worth of party trays to cater to their customers. That's business China Dragon will now lose.
"When they close down it's going to hurt us, the business a little bit yeah," said Lin.
And then there are the customers who say they have nowhere else to go. Cathy Harrison is a widow and spends hours at a time at sweepstakes cafes. She says the looming ban will now cause her to change her lifestyle and her politics.
"I'm rethinking who I'm going to vote for this next election," said Harrison.
The owner of Royal Time Sweepstakes says that on the back of every pre-paid card used in the internet cafe there is a contact for the sweepstakes company in the event that customers need to redeem the money and cannot access the internet cafe.
First Coast News