Arcade workers protest in effort to save their jobs

City says arcades involve illegal activity; workers say they provide jobs

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The countdown is on for adult arcades in Jacksonville to close their doors for good, but arcade operators are trying to find a way to remain open. Arcade workers carried signs and chanted, ” Save our jobs” Saturday. They're demanding Jacksonville’s mayor and City Council members reverse their decision to close the arcades Sunday night, several months ahead of the original February date.

City officials said its inspectors visited 175 arcade sites and issued orders to remove simulated gambling devices. 

A few dozen people showed up in the rain for the peaceful protest, including Patty Quinn, who's worked at a Westside arcade for the past six years.

"I am there to entertain," Quinn said. ”(My duties include) talking with people, giving them drinks, food, chips, making sure they are comfortable." 

But she said she's about to become the one uncomfortable when she loses her job at the arcade.

"I have a son in college, bills to pay, and all of a sudden, now, no money," Quinn said. ” They said we have until February. I could have prepared myself, ya know? It’s sad."

She describes adult arcades as, " a place to come hang out, have fun, everyone is a big family. I am going to miss my customers."

One woman, who didn't want to give us her name, has managed four adult arcades over the last 10 years.

"I want the mayor and City Council to reverse the decision and let these people work through February 1, (we're only) 67 days away from Christmas (and) these people live paycheck to paycheck." 

She and other arcade owners said they're willing to award merchandise prizes instead of cash prizes if the city would agree to allow the arcades to remain open. 

About the Authors: