While serving in the state House in 2010, Carroll introduced legislation to legalize sweepstakes games such as those in cafes operated by Allied Veterans. Carroll later withdrew the proposed law, saying it was filed erroneously and that she wasn’t interested in legalizing Internet cafes, which operate in a legal gray area.
Internet sweepstakes cafes are big business in Florida. Since 2007, as many as 1,000 have popped up across the state, according to industry estimates, raking in $1 billion a year.
To play games at one of the Internet cafes, a customer gets a prepaid card and then goes to a computer to play "sweepstakes." The games, with spinning wheels similar to slot machines, have names such as "Captain Cash," ’’Lucky Shamrocks" and "Money Bunny," according to the IRS. Winners go back to a cashier with their cards and cash out. The games of chance have been the subject of much debate in Florida and some are legal as long as most of the profits are donated to charity.
Allied is a big player in Florida. In 2011, it had 40 locations statewide. Allied has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on state lobbyists.
Carroll’s time as lieutenant governor has not been without controversy.
Former travel aide Carletha Cole said she was fired in 2011 after complaining about Carroll in the media. Cole, who was later charged with sharing an illegal recording, said she once walked in on Carroll and a female staffer engaged in what appeared to be a sex act. The governor’s office has described Cole’s allegations as “outrageous.”
Carroll’s travel as lieutenant governor also has been an issue. Scott’s office placed Carroll on a $10,000-a-month fixed travel budget after her travel costs ballooned to nearly $300,000 in 2011.
With Scott’s consent, Carroll also was assigned for protection a lower-ranking and less-expensive corporal from the Florida Highway Patrol.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.