JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – They’re called adult arcades. Formerly known as internet cafés, these businesses are in storefronts in almost every neighborhood in Jacksonville.
Once banned by state law, the city of Jacksonville has issued permits for 94 of them. Hundreds more tried to open but never received permits.
Earlier laws limited the number of these gaming businesses to 25, but It appears enforcement has looked the other way as they continue to operate and proliferate in Jacksonville.
Councilman Al Ferraro told a group of council members Friday that he is proposing a moratorium on any new arcades until they get a handle on how to enforce the rules.
“Of course it bothers me because you got people that are going around what should be done,” Ferraro said. “That is not what we will put in office to do. We are trying to uphold the law. We are trying to look out for the community.”
Jerry Bass was one of those involved in a chain of Jacksonville’s original Internet cafés, Allied Veterans of the World. After dozens of Allied Veterans locations in the state were shut down by regulators in 2013 and charges were filed against 29 people, the Florida Legislature banned them altogether.
Bass attended Friday’s meeting.
“I think they are as legal now as they ever were until they sit down and pass a law saying they are illegal,” Bass said.
The moratorium will be introduced to City Council at its next meeting. There is also a lawsuit filed by the Seminole tribe challenging the legality of several Jacksonville operators of internet cafés that been in the courts for almost two years.
None of the owners we contacted Friday wanted to talk, but customers of the businesses said they have no problem with the arcades.
“I don’t see why they are doing any harm,” said Rob, who didn’t want to give his last name. “You know, it’s just like Las Vegas I guess. It’s just something to do go cool off.”