Last week, Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez commended the state for acting on the machines, and issued a statement saying he has opposed them since he was a commissioner and sponsored legislation to create an Illegal Gaming Task Force. The legislation passed, but a task force has yet to be formed.
“I believe that maquinitas have been behind the proliferation of illegal gaming operations, which are associated with organized crime,” Gimenez said.
In Hialeah, the city’s 2,269 licensed video-gaming machines brought in more than $1 million in fees last year. Like Regalado, Hialeah Mayor Carlos Hernandez argues for the local ordinance, saying it pinpoints the locations of the machines and helps regulate how they are used.
On Tuesday, Hernandez declined to speculate on how the legislation passing in Tallahassee could affect his city.
The Miami ordinance caused a blowout between Regalado and his handpicked police chief, Exposito, that could not be repaired.
The friction came to a head during New Year’s week 2011, when Exposito claimed Regalado had made several phone calls to the city manager trying to stop an October raid. Regalado angrily denied the claim, though he later admitted he’d asked whether the raids could be delayed.
A week earlier, Exposito complained bitterly in letters to the city manager and federal law enforcement that Regalado had been tampering with the planned sting operation.
Exposito was fired by City Manager Johnny Martinez six months later for insubordination.
On Tuesday, Exposito said he feels “vindicated” by the Tallahassee arrests and that he continues to believe that the machines are used for gambling, not mere amusement.
Miami Herald staff writer David Ovalle contributed to this report.