Hungry for a good conversation? Join our Facebook group "Let's Eat, South Florida" where our readers and writers share tips about restaurants, recipes and more.

Dunbar on Internet cafes and the $1B spent

As gambling expert, lawyer and lobbyist Marc Dunbar notes, this is a busy time of year anyway, with regular legislative matters going on. Now, pile on the resignation of our lieutenant governor, linked to Internet cafes, and he's on the phone nonstop.

"I might get cauliflower ear," he joked Thursday. But I snagged about five minutes with him for this story I did on fallout from the Internet cafe news, and here's what I gleaned:

"Internet cafes are dead men walking. That’s very apparent. It's unfortunate it took the resignation of a lieutenant governor to get us here. I mean, I’ve been asking these guys to do it (ban Internet cafes) for years.

"But it’s good for the state. This needs to happen. If you look at the numbers. $300M from this one operation, the estimated revenues are $1 billion. And what people don’t understand is that this is money not going into the lottery. These are lottery communities."

He suggest that if that $1 billion were spent on the lottery, it would have meant $350 million for education, as the lottery likes to say. But realistically, not all that $1B would automatically go to the lottery, he agrees. But overall, there'd be a bump for everyone. including the pari-mutuels and the Seminole Tribe of Florida.

"[Internet cafes] are definitely a piece of the leakage that’s very, very real to the operators."

He added the adult arcades, legal under the Chuck E. Cheese law, are in his sights, too, now, as well as maquinatas, which are prevalent in Miami-Dade's hispanic communities.

"Here’s the thing: the vast majority are illegal right now today and local law enforcement doesn’t do anything to shut them down.

"If you had a statewide gambling law enforcement arm, they could go to Hialeah and they wouldn’t care about the local officers, but we don’t have anyone right now with that jurisdiction.

"But in most cases They don’t even try to be legal."

Dunbar, a partner with Jones Walker law firm, teaches gaming law at the Florida State University College of Law and boasts a law practice in Florida representing casinos, gaming suppliers, pari-mutuels, sweepstakes and charities.

Dunbar also reconfirmed this quote he gave in a New York Times story in 2011: ''Florida now has the most diverse gaming industry of any place in the country, including Vegas, where the lottery and Internet sweepstakes cafes don't even exist. We have every kind of gaming here, everything. And we have this massive underground industry in the state -- there are so many places for people to get their fix.''

Copyright © 2018, South Florida