Bill aimed at legalizing adult game rooms to be introduced to city council Tuesday

Councilman wants to limit number of adult game rooms in city to 20

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A bill that would bring adult arcade gaming back to Jacksonville will be introduced to the council on Tuesday night at City Hall.

The city shut them down three years ago -- calling them illegal gambling spots.

Councilman Garrett Dennis, who introduced the bill, said they’ve already come back but are operating illegally underground. He said there are literally hundreds.

Related: Jacksonville city council member wants to legalize adult game rooms to keep them safer

He told News4JAX they are being shut down and city resources are being used to do it, which is a cost to taxpayers.

His idea is to bring them back -- heavily regulated.

“My bill, eliminate those, bring them above ground and regulate those with strict regulations,” Dennis said.

He said one of his main focuses is safety. He knows many people support the idea of game rooms – but don’t want to see the peripheral issues—like crime and drug use return.

If it passed, his bill would limit the number of adult game rooms in the city to 20. They would be subject to strict regulation as well.

The regulation would include:

  • Each machine would have to be certified by a certifying company
  • They would also have to fall into strict zoning codes and not be near places like churches and schools
  • Dennis also says the permit would give J-S-O broad access to go inside and check the locations
  • code enforcement officers would also have unlimited access to make sure the machines meet standards

“This is something that as policymakers, we can’t just stick our head in the sand and act as though at the that it doesn’t exist. Insane that the city, with a coordinated effort from the fire marshal’s office, the police department, they shut down 30+ within the past month and a half.”

Dennis said he anticipates a vote happening in the next six weeks. But first, it’ll go through the committee and be up for debate.

Tuesday’s city council meeting is scheduled for 5:00 p.m.

About the Author:

Ashley Harding joined the Channel 4 news team in March 2013. She reports for and anchors The Morning Show.