The hasty and slipshod effort of Gov. Rick Scott to respond to illegal gambling in Miami has resulted in a poorly-crafted law that bans computers and smart phones in all of Florida. This year alone, Florida Gov. Rick Scott has approved one piece of bad legislation after another.
The provision in CS/HB 155, signed by Scott in April, that effectively banned computers and smart phones states that “the term ‘slot machine or device’ means any machine or device or system or network of devices that is adapted for use, in such a way that, upon activation, which may be achieved by, . . . the insertion of any . . . account number, code, or other object or information.” The flimsy wording of the law neglects to maintain the necessary specificity required to prevent the misreading, in turn including any and all devices that share network connectivity.
This legislation has prompted a lawsuit against the state brought forth by South Florida resident Consuelo Zapata, owner of Incredible Investments, LLC, an internet cafe “whose clientele is primarily migrant workers seeking computer time.” Since Florida lawmakers worded the law so overbroadly, it blankets all internet-connected devices and effectively bans any business offering internet connections, forcing over 1,000 internet cafes to close and have surely caused many more to lose their jobs.
Lawsuits have also been brought against national arcade chains because they, according to the law, are considered a “gambling houses.” In Broward County, there is a lawsuit against arcade chain Dave & Busters with the ultimate goal of shutting the arcade down until it cuts some games that violate the law signed by Gov. Scott.
Some Florida politicians remain shameless in their staunch support of the careless law. Florida House Speaker Will Weatherford (R-Wesley Chapel) said that he’s “proud that we [lawmakers] shut down the illegal Internet cafes in Florida. It’s good policy, and I’m only disappointed it took this long to do it.”
Joshua de Leon is a writer and researcher with Ring of Fire.