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The Villages
Friday, March 24, 2023

Sumter County’s stricter regulations appear to be working at internet cafes

Sumter County’s dozen internet cafes received perfect scores recently and no violations were reported.

The December inspections came nearly a year after the county cracked down on the cafes, which now must receive annual operating permits and pass periodic inspections by the county building department and the sheriff’s office.

Internet cafes offer cash or prizes to customers who play well on video games, which provides a way for them to skirt Florida’s gambling laws.

Lady Dawg’s Cafe in Bushnell, which passed inspection, now is closed and apparently the business has relocated to Hernando County. Winner’s World on Buenos Aires Avenue in The Villages also passed inspection and changed ownership in last fall when Timothy Cole purchased it from James Daugherty.

Other cafes that passed inspections include Good Time Arcade, Coconuts, Il Villagio, Sunshine Arcade, Player’s Place, Senior Center, all of Lady Lake; Tech Center/Dreamer’s of Bushnell; and Gold Rush Cafe and VIP/Dreamer’s Zone, both of Lake Panasoffkee.

Thirteen permits were issued last year when the permit ordinance went into effect. A permit for Fun Times Cafe was revoked in May due to continuing violations.

Two cafes closed last year after they failed to meet the application deadline. The owner of 50K Arcade of Lake Panasoffkee failed to apply for an operating permit and the owner of Spin the Wheel Cafe of Wildwood did not transfer ownership from Georgia to Florida in time.

After residents complained last year about loitering, theft and other issues near some cafes, especially in Lake Panasoffkee, Sumter County commissioners approved the ordinance to regulate them.

The ordinance required existing cafes to obtain annual operating permits and submit to regular inspections for building code violations and safety requirements.

New internet cafes cannot be located within 1,000 feet of a residence or within 2,500 feet of a school, child care center, day care center, church, park, playground or library.

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