Chuck E. Cheese Games Technically Illegal Under New Anti-Maquinitas Law
Florida's new law aimed at cracking down on maquinitas and other forms of computerized pseudo-gambling found at so-called "Internet cafes" is so far-reaching it actually outlawed several games found at places like Chuck E. Cheese and Dave & Buster's. However local authorities aren't so keen on enforcing the law at those chain restaurants.
"I'm not going to go arrest Chuck E. Cheese in front of a bunch of 6-year-olds," Hialeah Mayor Carlos Hernandez told the Miami Herald.
Known locally as maquinitas, gaming machines were found in blue-collar neighborhood stores and places billing themselves as "arcades" and "internet cafes" aimed at senior citizens throughout the state. The machines weren't all that much different from actual slot machines, which is why legislators decided to outlaw them.
When the bill was signed into law by Gov. Rick Scott, several local police department made a big show of rounding up the machines (in one case getting a little over zealous and trying to shut down a vintage RoboCop arcade game at Wynwood bar Gramps).
The law requires all games to be operated by coins, require some level of skill, and that any prizes won must be merchandise worth no more than seventy-five cents.
However, the Herald found that several games at places like Chuck E. Cheese technically run afoul of the law:
In Hialeah, Chuck E. Cheese's -- a popular kiddie pizza parlor that includes an arcade -- has a wind-tunnel machine in which a nimble-fingered child can snatch up to 2,000 prize tickets: enough for a fiber-optic lamp that changes colors. Similar models go for about $20 in stores. And, like all the other arcades the Miami Herald visited, it has several so-called coin-pushers, machines in which dropping a token may cause hundreds of others to cascade out in a jackpot.
No one seems to be targeting such places yet, and several politicians seem to think the law carved out an exception for places like Game Time and El Queso de Chuck E. Though, the actual law is vague.
Others point out that its a bit hypocritical to target games that cater to full-grown adults while giving a free pass to games that target children.