Unlicensed adult arcades must close by Monday

Jacksonville Code Enforcement notifying those without valid certificates

By Jim Piggott - Reporter, Steve Patrick - News4Jax digital managing editor

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Code Enforcement officers and Jacksonville's fire marshal are in the process of notifying 19 adult gaming parlors operating without a certificate of use that they must close by next Monday.

The move comes two weeks after the City Council approved a measure banning simulated gambling devices, such as computerized slot machines used in the establishments once called internet cafes.

The approved ordinance allows those with city certificates to continue to operate for six months. The city is in the process of notifying those operating without certificates that they must close by 5 p.m. June 17 or they face fines of $250 per day per "simulated gambling device."

Additionally, any property that continues to operate these illegal devices after that deadline will be declared unsafe and condemned or otherwise terminated as a public nuisance.

News4Jax has learned the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office vice officers are also working on this. When police and code enforcement visited one of the businesses Monday, some employees took off out the back door.

The city said there are over 100 of these businesses operating with the proper permits, but it recently investigated 23 and found some that don't have use certificates. Some of those are being notified they must close.

The city knows there are many more of the businesses operating illegally. 

Mayor Lenny Curry said the enforcement of the new ordinance began shortly after he signed it into law.

"It is not always easy to track those that do not have a license because they will shut down, will change names," Curry said. "They will move so rapidly that it makes it difficult to track."

A worker at one of the game rooms on 103rd Street that has recently changed hands said says it was targeted Monday. She told me it’s unfair for the workers who will lose jobs.

"No, it’s not fair. They don’t want to hear it. People will still go out of town to gamble," employee Angelina Lopez said.

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