Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Is It Gambling or Just Gaming? Nassau Is Becoming a First Coast Hot Spot

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Is It Gambling or Just Gaming? Nassau Is Becoming a First Coast Hot Spot

Article excerpt

Byline: KEVIN TURNER

Since Duval County Sheriff John Rutherford forbade the use of adult gaming machines in Duval County Feb. 20, effectively shutting down 20 gaming parlors, four have opened in Nassau County.

Now, Nassau County Sheriff Tommy Seagraves said he's keeping an eye on Nassau's parlors, but hasn't yet decided if he's going to take the same action as Rutherford.

At question: Are the machines in these parlors gaming or gambling machines? According to state law, if they require skill, they're gaming machines, and if they require luck, they're gambling machines. Skilled gaming is legal in Florida; gambling is not.

"That's undetermined at this point. I'm not saying I'm not or that I am," Seagraves said May 24. "The law is not really clear on what the status of the game is, whether it's skill or risk."

The machines look like slot machines, but they don't function or pay out like slot machines. The player, for a nickel or a few pennies a spin, typically stops digital spinning wheels with a touch of a button and in doing so can choose what symbol they seek. And when players win, they get a gift card or a prize, but can't get cash.

State Attorney Harvey Shorstein closed Cisco Vegas Paradise in Yulee in 2004, but allowed it to reopen in 2005.

Seagraves said he's taking a "wait-and-see" attitude, since Rutherford's assessment of the games as gambling machines should force the action to court. When there is a legal ruling, Seagraves said he'll have clarification on how the law should be enforced.

In the meantime, he said, Nassau County residents, many of whom are elderly, are begging him to leave the parlors open.

"I've had several call and beg me not to shut them down," he said.

Since March, four new parlors in Nassau County - Vegas 777 on U.S. 17 in Yulee; Treasure Bay on Amelia Island; and Southern Vegas Games south of Hilliard, have relocated from Jacksonville. …

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