To whom it may concern,
I and potentially many others are advocates of shutting down the internet cafes in Florida. I feel the cafes attract criminal activity and target minority groups. I feel they also profit off the addictions of others which is, in my opinion, morally reprehensible and goes against what my idea of good business practices are. There is also evidence of fraudulent activity within the businesses themselves and among the owners and management staff. Thus far, it has been difficult to have any success with the closings of these cafes but I believe I have some information that may be beneficial to that cause.
I used to work in one of the cafes here in Tallahassee Florida and have had a great amount of time and opportunity to learn about these cafes and how they operate. As many of you may know, the software the cafes use is designed to look, feel and sound like real slot machines that you would find in a normal casino. These machines are very addictive and people often spend hours in front of them hoping for that big payout.
The difference here and what makes it "legal" is that in the cafes the winnings are predetermined by the computer system and the player can either choose to reveal their winnings slowly (by spinning the reels) or they can choose the instant reveal option from the clerk. The reason these cafes are so successful is threefold. The patrons are not aware that they can choose the instant reveal option; they do not know that their winnings are predetermined and the owners and managers want them the remain ignorant to these facts. This is evident in further reading.
Heres what I'm getting at. From what I have observed, the clerks of these internet cafes have no idea what the instant reveal option is, even though it is available to them on their register screen. The owners and managers even tell the clerks that they are not to allow the customer to use it, and if they do they will be terminated! "Why is this?", I asked myself. The reason for this is that the managers want the customers to slowly reveal their winnings, if any, because the likelihood of them playing the money back into the machine is very high.
In other words, the more ignorant their patrons are to their game, the less money the business has to pay out. This is where the morally reprehensible part comes in. If the customer pays $20 into the sweepstakes, and it has been predetermined by the system that their winnings will be $5 or even $500, the customer can choose the instant reveal option and redeem their cash right then. It says so in the third line of the rules that are posted.
On the other-hand and to the obvious benefit of the business, if the customer sits down and keeps spinning the reels to their predetermined amount, they will continue to play hoping for more money. The customer will ultimately lose their winnings in this manner. At this point the store has won and obviously does not have to pay anything out to the customer. He or she leaves with a disappointingly fed addiction that ironically keeps them coming back for more.
This sounds like a pretty good deal for the business except for the fact that the owners and clerks are intentionally keeping their customers in the dark about the instant reveal option thereby intentionally depriving the patron of their winnings by using their faux addiction against them. Even though the sweepstakes' rules are clearly posted in each location, the clerks do not know how to use the instant reveal option and are purposely not trained on it. When customers do ask about it, they are told they can not do it.
I feel there may be some legal precedence regarding the false information the clerks are relaying to the customers of these establishments regarding the instant reveal option. Specifically that found in the Federal Consumer Information Act of 1978 regarding false information given to consumers. Proof of these actions would not be hard to obtain although it may prove difficult to avoid suppression in court if it were to go that far. Never the less, this alone may not be enough to shut the businesses down, but it would certainly scar their already damaged reputations, and it would certainly hurt them financially.