Politics
7:00 am
Thu May 23, 2013

New Internet Cafe Ban Leaves Chuck E. Cheese Alone

When is a gambling machine, not a gambling machine?  Apparently when it is inside a Chuck E. Cheese.  

Popular gaming chain Dave & Busters features slot machines where players insert enough tokens to claim prizes.
Credit Greg Castillo/The Miami Herald

After the state passed a ban on video gambling machines last month, many popular senior arcades had to close. But The Miami Herald reports that venues like Chuck E. Cheese and Dave & Busters continue to operate, even though their machines don't comply with the law either.  

"It’s just discrimination,” said Hialeah resident Jennifer Morejon, whose senior arcade was shut down by Hialeah police. “How can the machines be bad for my customers, who are adults spending their own money, but not for kids?”

Other residents like John van der Kieft of Miami disagrees. "They are children not adults," he said. "Their innocence shouldn't be exploited." 

The law, HB 155, broadly prohibits machines where one can win something of value. The Miami Herald reports that exceptions to the ban don't seem to preclude its application to games found at places like Chuck E. Cheese.

Hialeah Mayor Carlos Hernandez commented that “part of the law is vague" and does not seem to include venues oriented to kids.  

Hallandale resident Evelyn Stahl of Hallandale agrees, citing the new legislation as "ridiculous."

"There are a lot more things children need to be protected from than arcade games. How about bullying, or bad teachers or poor parenting? Besides, I don't think these games are so popular with kids (because) most of them are wrapped up in their computer or cell phone games." 

State legislators passed the ban after a scandal involving internet cafes claiming to be veterans' charities. Those cafes are now under investigation for fraud. The scandal led to the resignation of Lieutenant Gov. Jennifer Carroll, whose public relations firm represented the cafes.    An association representing hundreds of senior arcades has filed suit arguing that the video gambling ban is vague and arbitrary.  You can hear more about this issue on The Florida Roundup

Las Vegas-style slot machines can be found in Palm Beach's Fun Depot.
Credit Greg Castillo/The Miami Herald

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