• Lake Worths Fun Depot offers play on dozens of actual slot machines. Though the slots have been altered to play with and pay off in tokens rather than coins, they were illegal even before Floridas new law. Many other machines are activated by smart cards rather than coins, and prizes include Beats Solo headphones (retail price: about $200) and Xbox 360 game consoles ($180 and up).
• Most machines at Boomers, a Boca Raton arcade operated by a California-based chain, work on smart cards. Prizes that can be won on a single play include laptop computers, Nintendo, Xbox and PlayStation game consoles and iPods.
• Game Time, a Florida arcade chain with a location in South Miami, has smart-card-activated machines offering prizes ranging from popcorn machines to 46-inch televisions that can be won on a single play.
• In Hialeah, Chuck E. Cheeses a popular kiddie pizza parlor that includes an arcade has a wind-tunnel machine in which a nimble-fingered child can snatch up to 2,000 prize tickets: enough for a fiber-optic lamp that changes colors. Similar models go for about $20 in stores. And, like all the other arcades The Miami Herald visited, it has several so-called coin-pushers, machines in which dropping a token may cause hundreds of others to cascade out in a jackpot.
Most of the arcade owners didnt respond to calls from The Herald. One who did said she thought her business was complying with the law.
As we understand it, this legislation is not intended to target restaurant and entertainment companies such as Dave & Busters, Disney and others who operate games of skill, said April Spearman, vice president of marketing for Dave & Busters. While we continue to believe this legislation should not impact us, we are working with local law enforcement to understand the new law and ensure we are in full compliance.
Her belief is shared by some politicians who think the law doesnt include everybody. We dont have any of those places within the Miami city limits, but I thought there was something in the law so it didnt cover Chuck E. Cheeses, said Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado. Added Hialeahs Hernandez: That part of the law is vague.
But neither the mayors nor the arcade owners could point to the supposed exceptions in the law. And how is the law not vague when it comes to senior arcades, but vague when it comes to Dave & Busters and Chuck E. Cheeses? demanded Michael Wolf, a Fort Lauderdale attorney who represents the Florida Arcade Association, an organization that includes about 250 video parlors for the elderly.
Wolf filed a suit on behalf of two Broward arcades last month, challenging the constitutionality of the law, which it describes as arbitrary, irrational and not reasonably related to a legitimate governmental purpose.