Make us your home page
Instagram

Largo backs off enforcement against jukebox coin machines

LARGO — Last year, a new game called "Jukebox Coin Pusher" started appearing in convenience stores around Largo and other local cities.

The machines attracted the attention of law enforcement agencies. Largo police believed the devices were illegal slot machines and sent warning letters to stores in the city, prompting some stores to get rid of them.

Then the Tampa man who distributes the game took the fight to court. He has since won a round with Largo and is now taking on the state of Florida.

"The machines are back in the same stores in Largo," said Andy Kline, owner of Game Gallery Amusements and Rentals. "There were about five stores they got pulled out of."

Kline sued Largo police and a number of other government agencies, including the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation, which said Jukebox Coin Pusher was illegal.

Largo filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit, but a judge rejected the motion. Now Largo has withdrawn from the case and agreed not to send any more warning letters to stores until the courts rule on the machines' legality, according to a settlement filed in Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Court.

"All we did was send out letters saying we believed they could be illegal," said Largo police Lt. Stephen Slaughter. "We are no longer part of it. This is more of a state issue than a local municipal issue. I think the clarity of the law is somewhat in question."

Kline's lawsuit against the state is working its way through the courts.

Jukebox Coin Pusher machines are filled with quarters, with some dollar bills (occasionally a $20) buried in their midst. A customer drops a quarter in to play a song. The quarter falls onto a moving metal shelf covered in other quarters. If that customer is lucky (or, if you ask Kline, skilled), the quarter bumps other quarters off the shelf, starting a domino effect in which those quarters fall onto a bottom level and push other quarters over a lip and into a bin, where they can be collected.

Kline says it's a game of skill and that while there are illegal coin pusher machines out there, he designed his to comply with Florida law.

"This isn't a gambling machine. The customer is purchasing music," said Joshua Eggnatz, Kline's attorney. "There is a game promotion given to the consumer. It's no different than when you purchase fries at McDonald's and you get a free entry into a sweepstakes."

Kline says he's leasing the machines throughout the Tampa Bay area. He's a leasing agent for the machines' owner, Apollon Global Technologies of New York.

The devices are all over Largo — at the Sunoco station at 1403 Clearwater-Largo Road N, the Metro gas station at East Bay Drive and Missouri Avenue, and a SuperAm convenience store on Seminole Boulevard.

When Largo police started sending out letters, at least one convenience store owner decided he wanted no part of the fight. Breaking state law on illegal slot machines is a third-degree felony.

The owner of Mac's Mini Mart on Clearwater-Largo Road wrote to Largo's police chief, saying his store would no longer lease the machine. "I gave the owner (Kline) until 10/15/2012 to take his machine out of my business or I will throw it in the Dumpster," Abdeslam Rahmouni wrote.

But these days, Mac's Mini Mart has a Jukebox Coin Pusher once again.

Mike Brassfield can be reached at brassfield@tampabay.com or (727) 445-4151. To write a letter to the editor, go to tampabay.com/letters.

Largo backs off enforcement against jukebox coin machines 07/23/13 [Last modified: Tuesday, July 23, 2013 1:37pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Author Randy Wayne White could open St. Pete's biggest restaurant on the pier

    Food & Dining

    ST. PETERSBURG — The story begins with Yucatan shrimp.

    St. Petersburg Deputy Mayor Kanika Tomalin, pilot Mark Futch, Boca Grande, St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman, and author and businessman Randy Wayne White,  Sanibel, exit a Maule Super Rocket seaplane after taking a fight around Tampa Bay off the St. Petersburg waterfront, 6/28/17.  White and his business partners are in negotiations with the City of St. Petersburg to build a fourth Doc Ford's Rum Bar & Grille on the approach to the St. Petersburg Pier with a second event space on the pier according to White. The group met near Spa Beach after a ground breaking ceremony for the new pier. "We want to have our business open by the time the pier opens," said White. Other Dr. Ford restaurants are located on Sanibel, Captiva and Ft. Myers Beach. SCOTT KEELER   |   Times
  2. Guilty plea for WellCare Health Plans former counsel Thaddeus Bereday

    Business

    Former WellCare Health Plans general counsel Thaddeus M.S. Bereday pleaded guilty to one count of making a false statement to the Florida Medicaid program, and faces a maximum penalty of five years in federal prison. A sentencing date has not yet been set, acting U.S. Attorney W. Stephen Muldrow of the Middle District …

    WellCare Health Plans former general counsel Thaddeus M.S. Bereday, pleaded guilty to one count of making a false statement to the Florida Medicaid program, and faces a maximum penalty of five years in federal prison. A sentencing date has not yet been set, acting U.S. Attorney W. Stephen Muldrow of the Middle District of Florida stated Wednesday. [LinkedIn handout]
  3. DOT shows alternatives to former Tampa Bay Express toll lanes

    Transportation

    TAMPA — State transportation officials are evaluating at least a half-dozen alternatives to the controversial Tampa Bay interstate plan that they will workshop with the community for the next 18 months.

    Florida Department of Transportation consultant Brad Flom explains potential alternatives to adding toll lanes to Interstate 275 during a meeting Wednesday at DOT's Tampa office. Flom presented seven diagrams, all of which swapped toll lanes for transit, such as light rail or express bus, in the I-275 corridor from downtown Tampa to Bearss Ave. [CAITLIN JOHNSTON | Times]
  4. Claim: State pressured CFO, used secret recordings to shut down Universal Health Care

    Banking

    ST. PETERSBURG — The founder of St. Petersburg's Universal Health Care alleges that Florida regulators conspired with the company's chief financial officer to drive the once high-flying Medicare insurer out of business.

    Federal agents raided the headquarters of Universal Health Care in 2013, ordering employees to leave the building. The insolvent St. Petersburg Medicare insurer was then in the process of being liquidated by state regulators.
[DIRK SHADD   |   Times file photo]

  5. Aramis Ayala defends stance against death penalty: 'I did what I believe was proper'

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — Orlando prosecutor Aramis Ayala on Wednesday defended her "absolute discretion" to never seek the death penalty in murder cases, as skeptical justices of the Florida Supreme Court bombarded her lawyer with sharp questions.

    Orlando prosecutor Aramis Ayala, far right, said she was "very well pleased" with her lawyer's case. "I violated no laws." [STEVE BOUSQUET | Times]