Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Unintended Consequences

This interesting article is about a new Florida law that serves as a good example of the perils of statutory drafting. 

An internet café is challenging the recently enacted law, which banned internet cafés in an attempt to crack down on internet-based gambling establishments.  The law prohibits “illegal slot machines.”  An “illegal slot machine” includes any “system or network of devices that may be used in a game of chance.”  The new law also creates a rebuttable presumption that a “device, system, or network is a prohibited slot machine or device if it is used to display images of games of chance and is part of a scheme involving any payment or donation of money or its equivalent or awarding anything of value.”

What's the problem, you ask?  The new law appears to be so broad that the term “illegal slot machine” encompasses any computer, smart phone, or other electronic device that could be used to access an internet gambling site.  This almost certainly isn't what the Florida legislature intended, but it looks like that it what it got.    

The article provides a link to the complaint, if you're interested.  You might notice that famed professor Alan Dershowitz is co-counsel for the café.      

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