Disney Is Removing Redemption Games And Crane Machines From Its Florida FECs

Posted On: 1/12/2015

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TAGS: coin-op news, claw machines, vending, skill cranes, redemption game, Disney game ban, Walt Disney World, family entertainment centers, Disney arcade policy, HB 155, Florida State Sen. Kelli Stargel, Florida amusement machine legislation, Florida gambling law, Chuck E. Cheese's, Dave & Buster's

ORLANDO, FL -- Walt Disney World is reportedly eliminating redemption games and crane machines in its resort-based family entertainment centers in Florida. Crane machines and prize redemption counters are summarily being removed, according to a report in Saturday's Orlando Sentinel.

The entertainment giant's policy change will also close about a half dozen of its FECs. Disney gave no reason for its decision, which has sparked widespread speculation throughout the nationwide coin-op industry.

One theory gaining traction is that Disney is responding to a law passed in April 2013 intended to close storefront gambling operations popularly known as Internet or sweepstakes cafés. The law, HB 155, was aimed at plugging a loophole in existing laws that allowed the Internet cafés to operate.

An unintentional consequence of the law has been to cast doubt on the legality of FEC-based redemption operations and amusement prize games on the street. According to the newly enacted law, prize-awarding machines cannot accept bills or smart cards, nor can they award gift cards or prizes deemed greater than 75¢ in value. (This encompasses many of the prize merchandisers and skill games found in most of the nation's FECs and on street routes.)

Coin-op entertainment industry members are working on clarification of the law that targets gambling in order to exempt redemption games. Last year, Florida State Sen. Kelli Stargel failed to pass the needed legislation. Stargel, whose Lakeland district includes Disney World, recently proposed similar legislation.

According to the Sentinel report, chain operations like Chuck E. Cheese's and Dave & Buster's, along with independently owned FECS, are still offering redemption and skill merchandisers in their Florida stores.