Florida is well-known for crazy hijinks, but the Sunshine State may have outdone itself this time.
A new lawsuit claims that the state legislature accidentally made all the state’s computers and smartphones illegal in April.
Whoops! How’d that happen?
The language of the law in question—intended to outlaw slot machines and online gambling machines—bans any “device, machine or system” that requires money, a code, or “information” that is used to play any game with an unpredictable outcome.
That’s the problem: lawyers say the language prohibits any device that’s even capable of playing a game of chance. Which would mean, well, just about every possible device created in the last decade or so.
The law, which was approved by Gov. Rick Scott, had the best of intentions; it went into effect a month after a Florida charity, Allied Veterans of the World, was shut down on suspicion that it was an online gambling front. Sixty people were arrested in connection to the charity, which counted Florida’s Lt. Governor, Jennifer Carroll, as a consultant (Carroll has since resigned). The law, effectively banning slots and Internet cafes, was meant to crack down on the kind of illegal gambling involved in the allegedly fake charity.
Now, it appears, a lawsuit that hinges on tricky semantics is the best hope Florida’s Internet café owners and slot-happy senior citizens have of getting their beloved gambling machines back.
The law is poorly worded, vague and confusing, says Justin Kaplan, a lawyer at the Miami-based law firm representing Incredible Investments, a Miami internet café and one of the many local business shuttered as a result of the legislation. (Kaplan’s firm got help from famed constitutional lawyer Alan Dershowitz in building the lawsuit.)
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