City gets ready to shut down up to 160 adult arcades

By Jim Piggott - Reporter

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - It looks like game over for adult arcades in Jacksonville.

The city is getting ready to shut down all of them down following Tuesday night's vote by City Council.

The Council narrowly approved the measure that moves the closing date from February of next year to now. It takes effect as soon as Mayor Lenny Curry signs the measure into law. That is expected sometime this week.

Game room supporters said they lost big Tuesday night. Some employees of local establishments were not expecting the shut down to happen so quickly.

Robin Rukab, who is involved with several arcades, said Wednesday the action is unfair to arcade employees.

"I don't think there's any community in this country that would take out 2,700 jobs in a matter of seconds," Rukab said.

She said the employees need their income.

"The City Council members who left City Hall last night in their fancy cars and went to their gated community homes. I don't know how they slept last night knowing that they unemployed 2,700 people," Rukab added.

Two council members will meet next week to discuss how to help workers who will be displaced after the adult arcades close.

Brian Hughes, Chief Administrative Officer for Jacksonville, said once the mayor signs the measure  City code enforcement and the Sheriff's Office will be visiting the locations as soon as Monday.

Hughes said there are between 140 and 160 sites so it could take some time.

"We will start a citation process that ultimately leads to the removal of the machines or shutting down the facility," Hughes added.

Already lawyers for the game rooms are planning their strategy. Upset with the fact the City changed the February closing date, Kelly Mathis, an attorney whose been involved in representing game room since they first ran into trouble in Jacksonville, said he is planning to file an emergency injunction in federal court to keep the latest proposed shutdown from happening. 

"If we're a legitimate business — and they are — and you are shutting us down, what about the other places? They have crime, they have calls for service," Mathis said. 

That appeal has not been filed since the Mayor has yet to sign the measure into law. Some customers who spoke with News4Jax on Wednesday aren't happy.

"The place is not a nuisance whatsoever. If you want to call a nuisance, we've got two girly bars down the street here. Police are called there regularly. Did they close them down? Same difference," said one customer inside Spin City, an adult arcade on the Southside.

The original lawsuit filed this summer on this measure has now been moved to federal court. So far no court date has been set.

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