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Florida unwittingly outlaws cellphones

In attempt to put Internet cafes out of business, slot-machine ban makes it illegal to own any device you could use to gamble online

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Which is precisely what attorneys – including Harvard professor and constitutional law attorney Alan Dershowitz (“last resort” friend of Mike Tyson, Patty Hearst and Claus von Bulow), who helped craft the argument – said in a lawsuit filed in a Miami-Dade circuit court just as an Internet café ban that sailed through this year’s legislature took effect. Actually, the lawsuit, filed on behalf of Incredible Investments and its proprietor Consuelo Zapata, doesn’t stop at calling the law flawed for raiding and shuttering all Florida businesses with paid computer-use time – it claims that, by dint of its clumsy wording defining “slot machines” alone, the Florida legislature has banned just about any device capable of playing slots.

We read through the 40-page suit, and it does make for some entertaining semantics, especially the part where the legislature amends its existing regulation of slot machines to include basically all devices capable of luring you into spending money – like all of them do. So basically, because police have been remiss in enforcing the existing gambling laws – or, have lost court cases based on their wrongful enforcement – the state ham-fisted some verbiage into law without fully vetting its implications and called it a victory.

“They rushed to judgment and they took what they saw as a very specific problem and essentially criminalized everything,” attorney Justin Kaplan told the Tampa Bay Times, adding glibly that even the computers used to write the law in Tallahassee could be suspect: “The ones they used to draft this legislation are illegal.”

The suit has set off an avalanche of further litigation in other counties to prove how dumb your state leaders are, naming companies like Dave & Busters and Boomers because the enforcement of the gaming ban doesn’t seem to be affecting them yet. So, just to be safe, it might be time to clear your cache. Your number could come up next, especially if you’re paying your cable bill!

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