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Miami makes maquinita arrests as mayor does gambling about-face

A week after Gov. Rick Scott signed a bill outlawing video gambling machines — “maquinitas,” as they’re known locally — Miami police swept through the city’s small bars and marketplaces Thursday, confiscating 10 machines and making six arrests.

While that show of force was under way, a career politician who once championed a law to make the machines legal took center stage at a highly publicized event in which 48 of the machines were crushed by bulldozers, and speakers told of the evils maquinitas brought to Miamians.

Miami Mayor Tomás Regalado, whose first major action as mayor was the creation of an ordinance that would reform the pesky maquinita movement his former police chief tried so hard to destroy, suddenly transformed himself into New York City Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia circa 1942, who in a historic photograph wielded a sledge hammer to destroy a slot machine.

“I was not in favor of the maquinitas, I was in favor of regulating the maquinitas,” Regalado said Thursday, stepping away from the bulldozers that were crushing the glass and wood remnants of 48 video gambling machines at the city’s sanitation yard in Allapattah. “Now they’re illegal, and we applaud that.”

More from Charles Rabin here.