Judge denies motion for injunction to keep city from closing adult arcades

Emergency motion was filed in federal court by Kelly Mathis

By Jim Piggott - Reporter

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A federal judge on Tuesday denied a motion for a temporary injunction and preliminary injunction to stop the shutdown of adult arcades across Jacksonville. 

Kelly Mathis, who’s been involved in the arcade fight from the beginning, on Monday filed the emergency motion for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction against a bill banning the game rooms.

Federal courts were closed for Columbus Day, so the judge did not rule on the request until Tuesday.

COURT DOCUMENTS: Emergency motion | Order denying motion

Jacksonville code enforcement and police officers began visiting game rooms around the city on Monday, issuing cease and desist orders and telling operators they have five days to remove simulated gambling devices that the city considers illegal gaming machines.

The federal government got involved Tuesday in the adult arcade crackdown. The Department of Homeland Security was going along with city code enforcement inspectors and the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office, warning businesses to get rid of machines that simulate gambling, such as slot machines and fish tables.

As of Tuesday afternoon, 64 arcades had been visited by inspectors. They were left cease-and-desist notices for the simulated gambling machines.

Any business found violating the order faces a $250 penalty for each device per day. The arcades can remain open if they have other legal attractions.

The shutdown effort followed a controversial vote from City Council that moved up the ban's start date. Council members who voted to move up the deadline argue the businesses are a public nuisance and that public safety is at risk. 

As the Jacksonville adult arcades prepare to shut their doors for good, the City Council is discussing ways to help the thousands of employees who could soon be out of work. More than 2,700 employees at adult arcades are worried about losing their jobs, according to sources with the arcades.

To help, the city has partnered with CareerSource to hold a job fair on Thursday, Oct. 24. The event will be from 9 a.m.-2 p.m. at the Emmett Reed Community Center at 1093 West 6th St. in Jacksonville.

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