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Florida may ban senior citizen arcades

April 6, 2013 at 5:29 PM

TALLAHASSEE, Fla., April 6 (UPI) -- Florida lawmakers have proposed outlawing senior arcades, where small amounts of money are gambled in hopes of winning gift certificates to area businesses.

The slot machine-like devices, which take between a penny and a dime per spin, are popular among many seniors, the South Florida Sun Sentinel said Friday. The proposed law prohibits the use of paper bills and outlaws rewarding players with gift cards to businesses.

Many seniors who go to the arcades say a ban would take away a prime place for socializing with friends.

"It's ridiculous," said Sonya Schaffel, 81, a retired school aide from New York who regularly visits an arcade in Delray Beach, Fla. "They're wonderful for us old folks. They feed me. The girls here are like family. I'm handicapped. It's difficult for me to walk. I come with $15 or $20 and I can play forever."

One operator of the arcades said efforts were under way to find a way to modify the machines so they're within the law, but conceded the arcades would have to shut down, at least for a while, if the legislation becomes law.

The bill has passed the state Senate and awaits a vote in the Assembly. Gov. Rick Scott has said he will sign it if passed.

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