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Arcade owners file lawsuit asking court to halt ban on their machines

The owners of two senior arcades in Broward County filed a lawsuit Thursday challenging Florida’s new law that tightens the rules prohibiting them from operating slots-like games.

The arcade owners, represented by constitutional law expert Bruce Rogow and Michael Wolf of the Florida Arcades Association, are asking the court to block a portion of the legislation that passed as a result of the federal and state investigation into Internet cafes operated by Allied Veterans of the World.

Lawmakers rushed into law the bill to ban the machines after state and federal officials arrested 57 people on racketeering and money laundering charges for operating a fake charity and illegal gambling houses.

Legislators used the crackdown to clarify the law and target machines operated by adult arcades and Miami’s maquinitas, which also operate slots-like games they considered illegal.

The 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, required that the machines operate using only coins, not dollar bills and prohibited them from offering “gift cards or certificates” as prizes.

The lawsuit claims 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,’’ he said.  Download Verified Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief

Arcade owners have been planning the lawsuit since the day the legislation was signed by the governor a week ago. They have asked owners to contribute money to a legal defense fund that would pay for their lawyer's fees.