A week after Gov. Rick Scott signed legislation outlawing video gambling machines, the Miami Police Department raided gas stations, cafés, and bars around the city last Thursday, arresting six men and confiscating ten maquinitas. Unsurprisingly, the operation occurred just as politicians attended the public crushing of 48 such machines.
The publicity stunt wasn't without hiccups, however. When cops swept into Wynwood bar Gramps, they mistook four vintage videogames for illegal gambling machines.
"They were particularly concerned with my RoboCop arcade game," bar owner Adam Gersten says. The cops eventually left, but not without getting a quick demo on how to beat the ED-209.
Police Mistake RoboCop Videogame for Gambling Machine
Miami PD spokeswoman Kenia Reyes admits the officers made a mistake. "We got some information that there were illegal gambling machines [at Gramps]," she says. "We went to the location to check it out... but the machines were not illegal."
The maquinita crackdown did net six illegal gambling suspects, according to records provided by the police. All six were based in Little Havana or downtown, at locations ranging from a laundromat at Calle Ocho and SW Tenth Avenue, a gas station ten blocks west, and a cafeteria at NE Second Avenue and Second Street.
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How, exactly, a Wynwood bar like Gramps got lumped in with a bunch of gas stations and laundromats is unclear.
"The only thing I can say at this time is that around 11 a.m., many members of the Miami Police Department came into my bar while I was receiving deliveries and accused me of having illegal gambling machines," Gersten says. "I told them I did not have illegal gambling machines. I told them that I have four vintage video arcade games that I keep on free-play. They are similar to classics like Asteroids and Street Fighter."
Gersten then turned on RoboCop so the real cops could verify he wasn't swindling little old ladies out of their savings.
Maybe the officers just needed a little midday job inspiration from the greatest cop of all.