Florida Legislators Take Aim at Illegal Slot Machines
In an effort to address the rampant issue of illegal slot machines spreading across Florida, the state legislature has introduced two bills, SB 1046 and HB 189. These bills aim to clarify existing laws surrounding these machines and increase penalties for their possession and operation.
Legal experts and industry professionals have voiced their support for these measures, emphasizing the need for tougher penalties to dissuade proprietors from harboring illegal slot machines. Dan McGinn, a special counsel for the law firm Jones Walker, highlighted the significance of elevating penalties to felonies, suggesting it would incentivize law enforcement to pursue cases more vigorously.
The presence of illegal slot machines extends beyond authorized gambling establishments, often being found in adult arcades and internet cafes. Eric Carr, Director of External Affairs for the Florida Gaming Control Commission, emphasized the broader ramifications of such activities, linking them to the funding of violent criminal enterprises like drug trafficking and human exploitation.
Unlike states grappling with ambiguity over gambling definitions, Florida’s stance on slot machines remains clear due to statutory prohibitions. The American Gaming Association (AGA) has also supported efforts to eradicate illegal gambling apparatus, emphasizing the importance of empowering law enforcement to combat this underground market.
McGinn echoed sentiments of support for the proposed bills, emphasizing their potential to mitigate the spread of illegal gambling activities statewide and pointing to the associated social and economic harms.
With bipartisan support and backing from industry advocates, Florida’s crackdown on illicit gambling endeavors signals a concerted effort to safeguard communities and uphold the integrity of the state’s gaming regulations. The hope is that these measures will provide much-needed clarity and deterrence against the proliferation of illegal slot machines.