The name may make you think of warm fudge brownies and an equally warm welcome but seven Internet Cafés of Allied Veterans of the World, a non-profit service organization in which veterans help other veterans through fund-raising programs, in Florida are being sued by Jacksonville Greyhound Racing Inc (JGR), the parent company of the Jacksonville Kennel Club, Orange Park Kennel Club and The Poker Room at St John’s Greyhound Park.
Allied Veterans of the World was established in 1979 and raises funds to contribute to Veterans’ Administration hospitals and clinics through bingo, car washes, Internet centres and cookouts. Last year the organisation presented over US$2.5 million to veteran projects. Internet café proceeds directly benefit VA hospitals, VA clinics, and other non-profit groups, primarily first responder organizations, that Allied Veterans of the World, Inc. & Affiliates support.
Sweepstakes are run from the centres with individuals entitled to 100 free entries each day by requesting a free identification card. An additional 100 free entries are obtained for each 5 minutes of Internet time purchased and participants can win up to US$5,000. Hot dogs, non-alcoholic drinks and other items are provided free of charge for those using the Internet.
In the suit filed against the veterans’ organisation, JGR claims that after a thorough investigation it believes it has overwhelming evidence that illegal gambling, as defined by Florida law, is conducted at the Internet Cafés ‘masquerading as legitimate businesses.’ The game promotions or sweepstakes are defined by JGR as being on slot machines with ‘wheels’ that ‘spin’ and prizes in the form of credits that can be cashed in.
“Jacksonville Greyhound Racing Inc. strongly believes that Allied Veterans of the World is running establishments that are not only illegal, but damaging to our community as a whole,” said Howard Korman, President & CEO Jacksonville Greyhound Racing Inc. “These so-called 'Internet cafes' are exploiting the law and hiding behind the guise of being legitimate businesses in order to promote illegal gambling. It is in Jacksonville’s best interest to have these establishments closed as quickly as possible.”
Law enforcement agencies in the state of Florida have begun taking action against Allied Veterans of the World Internet Cafes and other businesses like them. Longwood police and Seminole County deputy sheriffs raided two Allied Veterans of the World gaming operations on August 20th, seizing computers, equipment and cash. This followed a similar raid in June in Marion County.
In the lawsuit filed yesterday, Jacksonville Greyhound Racing, Inc. claims Allied Veterans of the World is in violation of the Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act and the Civil Remedies for Criminal Practices Act. The lawsuit also claims these establishments are a common nuisance pursuant to Florida Statute Section 849.20. (E-08.26.09)
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