Saturday, December 16, 2017
Business

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 Now Largo has withdrawn from the case and agreed not to send any more warning letters to stores until the courts rule on the machines' legality, according to a settlement filed in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 [email protected] or (727) 445-4151. To write a letter to the editor, go to tampabay.com/letters.

Comments
Fueled by indulgence and machismo, restaurants are a hotbed for sexual harassment

Fueled by indulgence and machismo, restaurants are a hotbed for sexual harassment

When Brenda Terry was 16 and living in St. Louis, she was a hostess and food runner at a sports bar where female employees wore cute, little cheerleading skirts. One night, she said, a patron grabbed her crotch. She ran to her management team and the...
Published: 12/15/17
Pigs can be therapy animals too. So can horses and rats and cats and llamas and … (w/video)

Pigs can be therapy animals too. So can horses and rats and cats and llamas and … (w/video)

Shrieks of laughter echoed off the walls of the hospital as Thunder the mini pig flopped onto his side and the children huddled around him, scratching his pink, hairy belly. He and his wet-nosed partner, Bolt, drew patients in wheelchairs and bandage...
Published: 12/15/17
Vology landlord challenges property tax assessment

Vology landlord challenges property tax assessment

LARGO — Eight months after paying $10.15 million for the office building that houses IT services company Vology, a New York company is suing the Pinellas County Property Appraiser and Florida Department of Revenue contending its $5.5 million tax asse...
Published: 12/15/17
Taxpayer subsidies of Tampa golf courses are on the rise as struggles continue

Taxpayer subsidies of Tampa golf courses are on the rise as struggles continue

TAMPA — For the half of the year that Harry Nichols lives in Oldsmar, he plays 18 holes several times a month at Rocky Point Golf Course. On a good day, Nichols said he shoots close to par on the Dana Shores course. And if he’s really lucky, it’ll on...
Published: 12/15/17
Florida’s $1.1 billion Hardest Hit Fund winding down after some hard knocks

Florida’s $1.1 billion Hardest Hit Fund winding down after some hard knocks

In 2010, Florida was in the throes of an unprecedented housing crisis. One in every eight homes was in some stage of foreclosure. Today, the foreclosure rate is one in every 83. Because of that enormous drop, Florida’s Hardest Hit Fund will s...
Published: 12/15/17
Report: Rich will get still richer unless policies change

Report: Rich will get still richer unless policies change

By ELAINE KURTENBACHTOKYO — Global inequality has stabilized at high levels in recent years, a report said Friday, despite gains among the poor in China and much milder disparities in incomes and wealth in Western Europe. The World Inequality Report ...
Published: 12/15/17
How the Disney/Fox deal will shake up Hollywood

How the Disney/Fox deal will shake up Hollywood

Associated Press NEW YORK — After years of tremors, the earthquake that had long been predicted finally shook Hollywood. Disney’s deal to purchase most of 21st Century Fox ends the era of the "Big Six" major movie studios, toppling one ...
Published: 12/15/17
St. Petersburg’s Museum of the American Arts and Crafts Movement set to be complete in 2019

St. Petersburg’s Museum of the American Arts and Crafts Movement set to be complete in 2019

ST. PETERSBURG — The Museum of the American Arts and Crafts Movement, under construction since 2015, is scheduled to be complete by the summer of 2019.The five-story, 137,100-square-foot building will house businessman and collector Rudy Ciccarello’s...
Published: 12/15/17
Obamacare enrollment ends today, but some can get an extension

Obamacare enrollment ends today, but some can get an extension

Today is the day that open enrollment for the Affordable Care Act will close for most people. But those affected by the slew of hurricanes that pummelled Florida, Texas, Puerto Rico and other states earlier this year can take advantage of a two-week ...
Published: 12/15/17
Pack your bags: 107.3M Americans to set holiday traveling record

Pack your bags: 107.3M Americans to set holiday traveling record

A record-breaking number of Americans are expected to travel this holiday season.The American Automobile Association projects that 107.3 million Americans will pack their bags and travel more than 50 miles by planes, trains, automobiles and other mod...
Published: 12/14/17