Over 200 Jacksonville adult arcades a nuisance, city council members want it to end

Friday afternoon the Jacksonville City Council held a meeting concerning the future of the adult gaming centers in the area.

City leaders discussed plans of a proposed bill to close some of the internet cafes immediately, and allow others a year to stop the use of simulated gaming machines.

UPDATED STORY: 15 internet cafes in Jacksonville forced to close Monday 

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Although the bill was introduced to help combat crime not all council members were on board.

Council member Al Ferraro said over the past year police have responded to calls at more than 200 gaming centers. Ferraro said some internet cafes have become a nuisance which is why they want to put a stop to it.

As technology changes though it becomes harder to identify simulated gambling machines inside adult gaming centers.

“This is a public nuisance we’re trying to see what we can do for our constituents,” Ferraro said.

According to City Council members JSO has responded to more than 500 incidents and calls for service at 217 gaming cafes in Jacksonville. Only 94 of them were operating legally under city ordinance.

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That’s why councilman Al Ferraro is in support of putting strict regulation on these gaming centers.

“It’s going to give code enforcement the ability to shut down the ones who are not operating with the COU's,” Ferraro said.

Last week a man was shot to death inside Dream Arcade on the city’s west side. Incidents like these are part of the reason the councilman wants to stop these adult arcades from operating.

However, people in support of the gaming centers like attorney Kelly Mathis who represents many of the gaming rooms said closing them won’t fix the issue of crime.

“Well, they’re doing a one size fits all. They want to shut everybody down because of a few problems which they can fix by other means,” Mathis said.

Mathis believes requiring security could help deter crime but Councilman Ferraro said he wants the bill to pass to make sure each community is not stuck with a nuisance. And he wants other City Council members to be on board with the bill.

“My first priority is public safety. I’m really surprised that some of the other council members are not fighting in the same place that I am. They’re sitting saying they know they have problems in their district but they want to regulate this and melt this down,” Ferraro said.

Council members in support of the bill said they’re not looking to run people out of business but their biggest priority is public safety.

They believe stopping the use of simulated gaming machines will help fight crime. The bill could go before the full board of city council members within the next month.

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