Florida Criminal Defense Attorney has been researching a new law that may make anyone with a cell phone or computer with Internet access a person possessing an illegal gambling device. Specifically, the definition of “slot machine” may now include most web devices. When a law captures innocent conduct it can be void for vagueness. The law may also violate the Equal Protection Clause.
Void for Vagueness
The State Attorney in Miami Dade has now been sued and the lawsuit alleges, “The definition of “slot machine or device” now contained in Fla. Stat. § 849.16, as amended, fails to adequately describe the prohibited machine or device such that a person of common understanding cannot know what is forbidden.
For your convenience we have highlighted the changes to the Florida Criminal Law: The definition of a “slot machine” now includes: any machine or device or system or network of devices that is adapted for use in such a way that, upon activation, which may be achieved by, but is not limited to, the insertion of any piece of money, coin, account number, code, or other object or information,such device or system is directly or indirectly caused to operate or may be operated and if the user, whether by application of skill or by reason of any element of chance . . . .
The Florida Legislature rewrote (Fla. Stat. § 849.094) to permit only retailers that conduct “a nationally advertised game promotion” to conduct games. The statute creates a protected class of nationally advertised game promoters. A 19 Count, Forty – page lawsuit has been filed challenging the new law. You can review the lawsuit here: https://miamiherald.typepad.com/files/internet-cafe-complaint.pdf
Equal Protection Violation
It has been alleged that, “Fla. Stat. § 849.094, as amended, accordingly violates the Plaintiff’s right to equal protection under the law because similarly situated businesses that happen to advertise game promotions nationally rather than locally are expressly permitted to employ the use of game promotions, but the Plaintiff is prevented from doing so unless it opts to advertise same nationally.”
The Florida Supreme Court has just invalidated a law on loud car stereos that attempted to allow loud political speech coming from motor vehicles. A protected class of political speakers was created in the Statute, just like the new gambling statute has created a class of national advertisers. We have previously written about that case here: https://news.duifla.com/2012/12/florida-court-loud-music-legal.html