Internet cafes vs. senior arcades: A primer

 My story about the effect of closing Internet cafes and senior arcades ran today, and with it was this primer:

Internet cafes

Legal: The games are classified as sweepstakes, following the argument that people who walk into, say McDonald’s, receive free Monopoly game pieces with a purchase. In Internet cafes, players get “sweepstakes entries” for buying time online. The instantaneous sweepstakes results are merely portrayed in the form of a slot machine, cafe owners argue.

Typical wager: 25 cents per play


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Typical payout: Patrons can ask Internet cafe staffers for cash at any time.

Disclaimer: “This game simulation is merely a method of displaying a winning entry,” reads the “Game Info” section on each machine. As with other sweepstakes, patrons can enter for free by sending a 3-by-5 card with their vital information to the host address.

Also: Based on Google and phone book searches, only one Internet cafe appears to operate in Broward County: the Lucky Spot at 906 W. Sunrise Blvd., in Fort Lauderdale. There are about 10 such cafes in Palm Beach County.

Senior arcades

Legal: Under Florida Statute 849.161, also known as “the Chuck E. Cheese” law, patrons can receive prizes for playing games of skill. The skill involved in this case is knowing when to hit the “stop” button on a machine. Experienced players can increase the amount of their wagers when they believe a machine is due to hit, proponents argue.

Typical wager: The minimum is usually 8 cents per play.

Typical payout: $25 or $50 in gift cards from companies such as Publix and Visa. Players who don’t earn enough points for a gift card can “cash out” and save them for future use.

Disclaimer: “We are Dave and Buster’s, except our kids are in their 70s and 80s,” says Gale Fontaine, president of the Florida Arcade Association.

Also: The industry prefers the term “senior arcades” rather than “adult arcades” so the public won’t confuse them with adult-movie theaters.

Other

Under the law, senior arcades must have at least 50 machines. Internet cafes have no such minimum.

Both options also offer progressive jackpots of about $1,000.