BROWARD

Ban on machines at senior arcades challenged

 

Herald/Times Tallahassee Bureau

The owners of two senior arcades in Broward County filed a lawsuit Thursday challenging Florida’s new law that prohibits them from operating slot-like games.

Lawmakers banned the machines after federal and state investigations into Internet cafes resulted in the arrest of 57 people on racketeering and money-laundering charges.

Legislators used the crackdown to target machines operated by adult arcades and Miami’s maquinitas, which also operate slot-like games.

The Broward arcades — Boardwalk Brothers Inc., of Tamarac and Play It Again Florida, of Davie — say they were unfairly targeted and argue the language governing adult arcade games is “arbitrary, irrational and not reasonably related to a legitimate governmental purpose.’’

The new requirements, which have forced dozens of the arcades to shut down in South Florida and elsewhere, require the machines to operate using only coins, not dollar bills, and prohibit them from offering “gift cards or certificates” as prizes.

The arcade owners — represented by constitutional-law expert Bruce Rogow and Michael Wolf, of the Florida Arcades Association — argue that the ban on casino-style games has no legitimate definition and “is therefore void for vagueness and leaves open the possibility of enforcement despite the lack of standards.”

Rep. Carlos Trujillo, a Miami Republican who sponsored the bill to outlaw the machines, told the Herald/Times he considers the lawsuit a long-shot attempt to salvage the industry.

“Bruce [Rogow] is an exceptional lawyer but I think he is definitely wrong on this one and the court will see it that way,’’ Trujillo said.

Arcade owners have been planning the lawsuit since the legislation was signed a week ago. The association has asked arcade owners to contribute money to a fund that would pay for lawyer’s fees.

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