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July 9, 2013

I Think Florida Just Banned Your Phone.

by Sam Ranard

This past march, a ring of internet cafes operated by Allied Veterans fo the World  was shut down after a federal investigation found that the “sweepstakes” cafes were illegally (racketeering and money laundering) bringing in over $300 million. Action News Jax reported, “Investigators claimed Allied Veterans raked in hundreds of millions of dollars from a fraud ring that used Internet Cafes as a front throughout Florida.” In the end 57 people were arrested.

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In response to the illegal gambling ring bust, Florida Governor Rick Scott signed off on a bill to ban all internet cafes in Florida that offer games of chance. But it appears that Governor Rick Scott treated the bill like the “agree to terms and conditions” button you click when you buy something on itunes. You just kind of want your song and you just start clicking, “agree” without reading any of the actual terms, conditions or writing. Well Governor Scott must have just started signing everything because he just kind of wanted to ban internet cafes. Why do I think this? Because the the bill banning most internet cafes defines illegal slot machines as any “system or network of devices” that may be used in a game of chance.* Your computer and smart phone most likely have internet access. That would classify them as devices on a system or network. Additionally, your computer and phone probably have games like solitaire, Candy Crush, or Bejewelled which would probably all be considered games of chance (I would consider Angry Birds a game of skill, games of skill are legal in Florida*). In effect your phone and computer are both devices on a system or network of devices that may be used in a game of chance.

*So what is a game of chance? As explained in our previous post, The legality of Online Gambling on Fantasy Sports: What’s the Line?, “A game of skill requires the player to have one or more of the following: A knowledge of the game strong enough to give the player an edge, a highly developed strategy or tactic, superior physichal abilities and the ability to use one’s knowledge effectively and readily in execution or performance. Games of chance on the other hand require much more luck than skill”

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