Grandpa vs. Junior: Lawsuits start rolling as senior arcades fight to reopen

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“If grandma and grandpa can’t gamble, neither should junior,” begins a column by Jane Musgrave of the Palm Beach Post, detailing the seemingly inconsistent targeting or enforcement of new laws that strictly regulate senior arcades and outlaw games of chance, but allow operations such as Chuck E. Cheese to continue, business as usual.

The Florida Arcade and Bingo Association is hoping that it can get corporate giants such as Dave & Busters, Disney, or Chuck E. Cheese to join them in efforts to overturn or redefine the measure, but sees a series of lawsuits as the only way to get there.

“We think when they come to the realization that the law does apply to them, they’ll be screaming bloody murder,” said Michael Wolf, attorney for the FABA, who filed suit against Boomers, a family entertainment company that has locations in Boca and Ft. Lauderdale.  Lawsuits against other such companies will follow, he said.

Under the new law, seniors playing games of chance cannot win anything worth more than 75 cents; yet similar games at entertainment arcades — such as pushing coins off of a ledge, which involves no skill — can result in some pretty serious reward: iPhones or an Xbox, for example.  

During legislative session, senior arcades tried in vain to make a distinction between their activities and gaming halls masquerading as Internet cafes; but since that time, have had to shut down.

“Selective enforcement is illegal,” said association president Gale Fontaine, who was forced to close shop after the law went into effect.

By slapping arcade giants with lawsuits that could feasibly result in forced compliance with a measure that was rushed into law, senior arcade proponents hope they will make new allies. What do you bet this tactic will work?