Workers destroy seized maquinitas

Video gambling machines illegal in Florida

MIAMI – Workers began destroying seized maquinitas after Florida Gov. Rick Scott signed a bill banning the video gambling machines.

A bulldozer smashed 48 video gambling terminals at the city's Solid Waste Department at 1290 Northwest 20th Street Thursday morning.

"This, I think, is a visual message that the city is indeed serious about complying with the state law," said Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado.

Miami Police Chief Manuel Orosa said raids began that day.

"We're going to make arrests based on the possession of the machines and we're taking away the machines and putting them in storage," he said.

Related: 6 arrested, accused of possessing illegal gambling machine

Some city leaders have opposed the machines, which were often found in Little Havana cafeterias and Flagler Street adult arcades.

"Two and a half years ago, I voted against the ordinance of maquinitas, and I am glad that we finally have a consensus and everybody -- including the state -- knows that they are illegal," said City Commissioner Frank Carollo. "It's an extremely proud day for me that we are finally going after these maquinitas, which, some call it a game, but really they're a cancer."

But Regalado and the former Miami Police Chief Miguel Exposito had a long-running battle over the maquinitas.

Exposito said they were illegal, while Regalado supported ordinance requiring a $500 license per machine, although not a single license was ever issued, and received money from operators.

"I was for legal machines and we passed an ordinance that would regulate them, that would bring a lot of money to the city, we believed at the time, that would tell us where the machines were because in the past, in the city of Miami, those machines were everywhere," said Regalado. "I took from many, many sources on my first campaign. These people were legitimate owners of business in Hialeah and other places and I took it."

"I think the mayor believes that by putting on a press conference, he can break his ties with the machine industry just by putting on a conference breaking the machine itself and it's clear that the mayor has received contributions from this industry and has been its champion," said Francis Suarez, a current Miami commissioner who is also running for mayor.