Driving along 4th Street North in St. Petersburg, I stumbled upon one of the most disturbing sights I have seen in this fair city: one of those illicit Internet Sweepstakes Cafes (ISCs).
ISCs have been in the news extensively since former Pinellas Sheriff Jim Coats considered them illegal and publicly stated he intended to shut down any ISCs operating in his jurisdiction.
After Coats’ declaration, two of the three ISCs operating in Pinellas County closed their doors in reaction to his threat.
In fact, when I spoke with the St. Petersburg Police Department today, they weren’t sure the ISC was even open for business. In addition, the elected officials I discussed this matter with said they only recently noticed the ISC but said they would look into the issue immediately.
The presence of an ISC in St. Petersburg raises all sorts of questions. Will Bob Gualtieri continue what Coats started?
Will he attempt to shut down this operation unilaterally? Or, will he coordinate with the St. Petersburg Police?
Does Mayor Bill Foster have a position on ISCs? What about the City Council?
Perhaps more importantly, why am I the one who is bringing this issue to the public’s attention?
How is it that an Internet Sweepstakes Cafe may open along 4th Street and no one noticed?