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Proposal Would Ease Worries For Florida's Amusement Game Operators

Posted On: 1/17/2014

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TAGS: gaming law, State Sen. Kelli Stargel, Internet sweepstakes cafés, Florida amusement laws, skill game prize limits, amusement machines, Amusement Machine Owners Association of Florida, coin-op news, amusement industry, amusement redemption, cashless vending

TALLAHASSEE, FL -- State Sen. Kelli Stargel has filed a measure aimed at helping amusement machine operators worried about a law passed last year that put Internet sweepstakes cafés out of business. The Lakeland Republican's proposition seeks to clarify a law banning sweepstakes videogames that was hastily approved by Florida lawmakers.

According to reports, Stargel's proposal also addresses restrictions on amusement games that have been on Florida's books for a long time but have generally not been enforced. For example, a decades-old state law requires arcades to have a minimum of 50 machines, which must be coin-operated. Prizes are capped at a value of 75¢, a threshold that hasn't changed since 1967.

Stargel's bill would eliminate the minimum number of machines, raise the value of prizes to $5.75 (what 75¢ in 1967 is worth today) and allow equipment to operate with cashless cards, bills or tokens. Last year's anti-sweeps law outlawed the use of swipe cards and bills to credit redemption and skill games, among other amusement devices.

The senator told local media that her proposal addresses amusement machines and has nothing to with gaming. While the restrictions were largely ignored in the past, bowling alley operators, small hoteliers and some retail stores have asked for legal clarification in light of last year's anti-sweepstakes controversy. The newly formed Amusement Machine Owners Association of Florida has been working with the state's attractions and bowling industries to educate lawmakers about the amusement industry and the need to reexamine outdated laws.