Since Gov. Rick Scott signed legislation outlawing video gambling machines last month, South Florida cops have rolled through their cities like the Untouchables, seizing dozens of machines from mom-and-pop stores and cafes and arresting their owners, while politicians deliver fiery orations about rubbing out a cancer on the community.
But everybody has been curiously quiet about another aspect of the law: big, well-heeled — and lawyered-up — kiddie and adult arcades whose machines were also outlawed by the new legislation. A Miami Herald check of popular chains like Dave & Buster’s, Chuck E. Cheese’s and Game Time found hundreds of machines that don’t comply with the new law.
“I’m not going to go arrest Chuck E. Cheese in front of a bunch of 6-year-olds,” said Hialeah Mayor Carlos Hernandez, whose city, on the day the law took effect, confiscated 72 machines from cafes and arcades that cater to the elderly. “If the governor and the Legislature want that, they can come and do it themselves.”
His words drew a bitter reaction from Jennifer Morejon, who was ordered by Hialeah police to close down her video arcade catering to the elderly and dismantle its 100 machines, or face arrest.
“It’s just discrimination,” she said. “How can the machines be bad for my customers, who are adults spending their own money, but not for kids? This is something you expect in a country like Cuba, not the United States.”