Internet cafe reopening disappointment

Internet casino "not as people remembered"

By Justin Warmoth - Anchor

MERRITT ISLAND, Fla. - After three months, CocoNuts Internet Cafe is back open to the public, but it isn't the same as people remembered.

"Disappointment, big disappointment," said Elaine Podwojski. All day people walked in and out of the internet cafe on Merritt Island, optimistic that it would be like it was three months ago.

The cafe reopened Wednesday after shutting down in April because of a law passed by Florida legislation that banned internet style casinos. Now, cafe owners are hoping to get business booming again, but some folks aren't quite sold on the new idea.

Podwojski, who was an avid cafe visitor, said, "Right now they are offering to play for $10 an hour, just for entertainment. They're not offering anything in return. I can play a lot of those games on my computer."

Ming Chen owns and operates CocoNuts and says it has been a tough three months thinking of a way to keep his business open. He said folks are happy to see him open back up and hopes they will look as his cafe as a place where they can socialize, rather than a place to win prizes.

"People are happy to see us get reopened up because they miss these places. I mean, we've been closed down for awhile and they are missing these games, meeting new people, and stuff like that," said Chen.

According to Florida law, internet style casinos can operate, but only if the machines are coin-operated and prizes have minimal value -- like Chuck-E-Cheeses or Dave and Busters.

Chen said, "A lot of people will be disappointed when they see there are no prizes, but I mean, we have to stay under the guidelines. There isn't much we can do about giving out prizes."

CocoNuts is the first internet cafe to open back up in Brevard County.

Copyright 2013 by All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.