JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Thousands of internet cafes throughout Florida were basically shut down after a new law was passed following the Allied Veterans of the World scandal. The goal of the law, as stated by lawmakers and Governor Scott, was to crack down on illegal gambling.
But now an internet café owner in South Florida is filing a new lawsuit against the state, saying there are portions of the new law that are “unconstitutional and therefore unenforceable.”
Specifically, they refer to the portion that defines “…a device, system, or network is a prohibits slot machine….” If it can be used in a game of chance.
The lawsuit alleges that because a smartphone, tablet, or any computer can access games of chance (via the internet or other means), the wording is much too broad in scope.
WOKV spoke with State Senator John Thrasher about the lawsuit, as he was one of the original advocates of the new law.
“My reaction is first of all to laugh…out loud I guess….L.O.L.,” Thrasher says.
He says the lawsuit is being filed by a creative group of lawyers.
“It’s not a group of citizens. It’s a group of people who are entrepreneurs trying to get involved, and continuing to get involved in illegal gambling in the state of Florida.”
Thrasher says the law wasn’t created so they could go after computers, smartphones, or even children’s’ arcades. He says the same people are filing a lawsuit against Chuck E. Cheese’s.
“They’re doing everything they can to try and disrupt what we did last year so that they can get back in the business of what really constitutes illegal gambling.”
Thrasher says the law was created to define what constitutes illegal gambling “in the context of these machines that were being programmed to look like computers, but were in fact, slot machines. And that’s what we banned and that’s what I think any reasonable court would look at and determine.”
He says he doesn’t think the court will side with the lawsuit. But if they do, they’ll go back and fix it.
“We’re obviously not going to allow people who use cell phones to simply not be able to use them because of that law.”
Thrasher says in next year’s legislative session, they’re going to address the entire “concept of gambling in the state of Florida,” and try to come up with a broad-based policy for the state.