New internet cafe plans to open on Northside of Jacksonville

Unclear if arcade was approved before or after moratorium

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A month after the Jacksonville City Council voted unanimously to place a moratorium on internet cafes, we learned a new sweepstakes center plans to open its doors on the Northside.

The moratorium keeps new internet cafes, or adult arcades, from opening for six months. Some fear the Lem Turner Arcade, which is located at the intersection of Lem Turner and Bassett roads, will lead to more problems in the area.

“They are no help to the community. (They’re) causing problems in the community, in families — (they’re) causing addiction,” said the Rev. Robert LaCount Jr. of the Baptist Ministers Conference.

LaCount is part of a group of Jacksonville pastors who say the cafes lead to increased crime, violence and poverty.

Many reports on raids and arrests at the arcades over the past decade, and in most cases, the charges were dropped.

City Councilman Al Ferraro was part of the push for the moratorium. He hopes more can be done to address the arcades.

“We are trying to put some regulations (in place) like a liquor store would have … Some type of distance from schools, from parks, from churches — things like that,” Ferraro said.

We are all waiting to hear back from the city on when the Lem Turner arcade was approved for the permit. If it happened before the moratorium, the business has the right to be open.

The Seminole Tribe of Florida has sued internet cafes, claiming they are gambling businesses. There has been no state decision on whether the arcades are homes for gambling, which would make them illegal, or if they are a sweepstakes, which under Florida law makes them legal.

A total of 94 cafes are allowed to operate in the city.

Posted in: Legal News

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