JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Hundreds of internet cafés, also known as adult arcades, are operating in Jacksonville, and many remain open after having their permits revoked.
Over the past decade, the News4Jax I-TEAM has reported on raids and arrests at the arcades. In most cases, the charges were dropped and the cafés remain open.
In other cases, the city has posted signs indicating the arcades are closed, not because of gambling, but for code violations.
A total of 94 internet cafés are allowed to operate in the city. 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.
Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams said enforcing the law is difficult because most are operating legally.
"At the end of the day, they are not breaking the law operating as a sweepstakes," Williams said. "There's a gray area that we continue to look at. Every complaint we investigate."
Some argue the state should regulate the cafés, while others believe it's a local issue. Jacksonville City Council members plan to introduce a measure to put a moratorium on new arcades, which is something Williams supports until the legality of the cafés is decided in court.
The I-TEAM is waiting for a response from the state attorney's office in regard to the enforcement of internet cafés.
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