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Judge rejects request to block Internet cafe ban

From Glenn Garvin:

A federal judge refused Tuesday to block enforcement of Florida’s new video gambling law, rejecting arguments by the owners of two Broward senior arcades that the measure is unconstitutionally vague and violates the First Amendment rights of their elderly customers.

U.S. District Judge James I. Cohn refused to issue a preliminary injunction sought by the arcade owners, whose arcades — like hundreds of others across the state — shut down last month following the Legislature’s enactment of the broad new law banning “casino-style games” outside of legally approved casinos.

“The phrase ‘casino-style games’ has a common or ordinary meaning that is known to the general population,” Cohn wrote in his decision, noting that the arcades themselves use the phrase ’’casino-style gaming” in some of their advertising.

He also dismissed the argument that, if the law forced the arcades to close, it violated a First Amendment “right of association” of customers to mingle together while playing the games. “If senior citizens desire to associate and play ‘casino-style games,’ they may still meet at local casinos to do so,” Cohn wrote.

Cohn’s ruling came four days after attorneys for the arcade, the state of Florida and the Seminole Indian tribe — which intervened in the case on the state’s side to protect its casino interests — argued the case in his Fort Lauderdale courtroom.

The arcade owners asked Cohn to block enforcement of the law so they can stay open while their lawsuit seeking to overturn it moves through the courts, a process that will take months if not longer. The arcade owners can appeal his refusal, but their attorneys said they haven’t decided whether to do that.

At issue are video games that, at least superficially, resemble the video slot machines played in casinos. Arcade owners say the internal workings of their games allow players to exercise skill and are different than those of slot machines, which are pure games of chance.

Though some police departments considered the machines illegal even before the new law passed last month, they were widely tolerated, and arcade owners had considerable success defending themselves when forced to do so in court.

But the arcade owners fear they may be swept up by the law passed hurriedly in April after a scandal over political donations by so-called Internet cafes — where computers were set up for gambling — threatened to envelop the Legislature.

Lawmakers not only outlawed “casino-style” games but limited prizes to a value of 75 cents, and made violation a second-degree felony punishable by a maximum 15-year prison sentence.

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/06/04/3432891_judge-denies-injuction-sought.html#storylink=cpy

 

 

Comments

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whasup

Well, neither the federal nor state constitution denies citizens the right to play amusement games nor specifically empowers the national or state government to regulate or ban them.

So, of course, free citizens have a right to play such games and to gather together to play them.

But they don't have a right to use them to gamble against the "house" or each other.

Carol Grindley

I wish everyone would get it right...these amusement games are not a form of gambling. The machines are "skill stop" games, which means the player must stop the reals from spinning at the right time to win. Casinos have "gambling machines" where the outcome is mere chance. The computer determines when the player will win. Skill stop games are not played against the "house" nor another opponent...it is a game between you and the machine. It is not any different than playing a game at home on x-box or on the computer.

And yes you can win a prize at a Senior Arcade for playing a game well....just as children can....they play games where they move the claw to a a selected spot and push the button, hoping to win a prize. Should we ban those machines too?

Larry

Cheers Carol!

John Peters

I'm 70 years old and my wife and I went to Arcades and Internet Cafe, both within 5 miles of our home. (P.B.G.) We became very frindly with many people and had good times. Now if I want to go to a Casono I have to drive over an hour to get there and after that drive we stay a few hours before the drive home. At the Arcade/Internet Cafe we could go for a half hour, or as long as we wanted. Than we could go back again if we wanted to.
I thing the ruling stinks and it's unfair.

B Davis

It's just political bs. Throw some money their way and things may change!

Cleavy

All the little people are hurt by this, tax the Internet cafes and leave them alone. This is America the land of free enterprise and fair competition for all, not just the ultra rich and one particular group of people who have a monopoly of gaming in the state of Florida.

Paul

The lessons we can learn from Florida's lawmakers are that 1.) Only children may gamble in arcades for prizes. 2.) Senior citizens are incapable of deciding how to spend their own hard-earned money, and 3.) The State of Florida can be easily bribed by a casino to implement new laws.

That's not even considering the fact that this law SHOULD affect Dave & Buster's, Chuck E Cheeses, and Disney's arcade, but Florida is refusing to use this law to prosecute those establishments. I'm pretty sure that you can't make a law and then pick and choose who you apply it to.

This stinks of corruption.

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