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Jury Delivers A Win For Accused In Internet Cafe Gambling Case

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Authorities around the US have been attempting to crack down on Internet cafes where the authorities claimed that illegal online gambling was taking place. On Monday, a jury in Marion County, Florida, found Jeaneen Cristante not guilty on both charges brought against her.

Cristante had been charged with owning and operating a gambling house and possession of slot machines at Marion Internet Services on US 441. The accused was arrested last year, and her legal team put together a defense that she did nothing wrong at the establishment.

Cristante contends that she used electronic sweepstakes to promote her phone card business. Customers would buy time on the phone cards, and then would play games at the computers where they could win prizes, not cash. The victory for Cristante may change the future of how these type cases are prosecuted.

Assistant State Attorney Mark Simpson insisted on Monday that the state would not stop going after these type of establishments. Simpson acknowledged the loss in court Monday, but vowed that the aggressive attitude towards shutting down these Internet cafes would be continued.

North Carolina and Georgia have had similar cafes start to spring up around their states. The police in both states have taken the same approach as the authorities in Florida. The contention is that these cafes are promoting illegal online gambling, but the jury's decision on Monday in Florida will make it much more difficult to gain a prosecution for this type of activity.

It is likely that one of these Internet cafe cases ends up in the hands of the Supreme Court. A blanket ruling may be necessary in order to ensure that the law is being interpreted correctly. Florida has experienced growth in their regulated casino industry, and that may have prompted the crackdown on the Internet cafes.

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