Florida Gambling Crackdown Banned ... All Computers

Internet cafe ban so vague it made smartphones illegal

By Ruth Brown,  Newser Staff

Posted Jul 10, 2013 9:33 AM CDT

(Newser) – When Florida politicians banned Internet cafes earlier this year, the intention was to stop illegal online gambling. Only they may have accidentally banned a whole lot more. A new lawsuit against the state alleges that the ban was so hastily constructed and poorly written that it effectively bans any computer, smart phone, or other device connected to the Internet by defining any device that allows you to play a game of chance as an "illegal slot machine," the Huffington Post reports. The suit argues that the ban should be declared "unconstitutional and therefore unenforceable."

The suit is being brought by Consuelo Zapata, the owner of one of the 1,000 Internet cafes shut down in the ban. The cafe's clientele was primarily migrant workers who needed computer access, reports the Tampa Bay Times. The suit argues the law was pushed through "in a frenzy" amid charges of racketeering and money-laundering against Internet cafes with ties to the state's then-lieutenant governor, and is now being selectively applied. The state could just as easily argue "Starbucks is running illegal slot machines because they provide their customers with a WiFi system," says Zapata's lawyer. The people who really were running Internet cafes as "adult arcades" agree—they have formed a coalition to sue Dave & Busters and Boomers, arguing that those arcades also count as "gambling houses" under the law.

Gladys Fundora plays a sweepstake game at the New York NewYork Arcade in Hialeah, Florida.   (AP Photo/Alan Diaz)
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