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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

On eve of shutdown, arcade owners seek to revamp machines



For Rick Scott, the “jobs” governor, the bill he will sign Wednesday to ban Internet cafes is as awkward as it gets.

The measure is guaranteed to put people out of work and, if the issue hadn’t come up, he would likely still have a lieutenant governor.

From Gadsden to Monroe counties, Internet cafe and adult arcade operators say an estimated 14,000 people will be forced into the unemployment lines as a result of the Legislature’s prohibition on casino game look-alikes.

Nonetheless, Scott said Tuesday, he will sign the bill and it will take effect immediately.

But the resilient industry, accustomed to living on the edge, is not ready to retire. Many arcade operators, who were in business long before the upstart Internet cafes came into town, are preparing to hang on by reconfiguring their machines to accommodate the new law or challenge the law in court.

“We are currently working on a package to retrofit all machines to be able to comply with new laws,” Shawn Mosayov of E and D Trading, a supplier in Hollywood, wrote on a Facebook page.

Gaming law experts say the retrofit could involve using tokens worth $1 to $20 and allowing  players to collect prizes using a debit or swipe card. Others may offer pseudo prizes — such as giant Teddy Bears — that can be traded for cash at a shop next door. Story here.

[Last modified: Tuesday, April 9, 2013 8:14pm]


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