The state recently passed a bill to crack down on gambling in Internet cafes. In a potentially unfortunate twist for anyone using a computer or smartphone in the state, a new lawsuit alleges the wording on the bill is so broad that it could be interpreted as a ban on any device connected online, including USENET!
The bill, passed two months ago by the Florida legislature, expanded the definition of the term “slot machine” to include any regular personal computers (PC) as being used as “makeshift slot machines”; thus, according to legislators, allowing gambling centers to operate as Internet adult arcades and Internet cafés.
The ban defines illegal slot machines as any “system or network of devices” that may be used in a game of chance, which would include the capabilities of USENET, given the ambiguity of the wording.
The crackdown was kicked off by a multi-year investigation of a number of Florida gambling cafes that were masquerading as part of a charitable organization. It resulted in more than 50 arrests, the resignation of Florida Lt. Governor Jennifer Carroll and the new bill banning Internet cafes.
The law firm of Kluger, Kaplan, Silverman, Katzen & Levine are working on the case, arguing that it is unconstitutional and was “passed in a frenzy fueled by distorted judgment in the wake of a scandal that included the Lieutenant Governor’s resignation.”
More than 1,000 Internet cafés have been shut down under the new law, according to the Tampa Bay Times. Businesses with standalone gaming machines and arcades are being impacted as well. More than likely, others will file lawsuits as they find their businesses obstructed by the confusing and vague wording in the new bill.