City's crackdown on illegal 'simulated gambling arcades' begins Monday

Council enacted legislation May 28 that requires all adult arcades to shut their doors by Aug. 1

  • Government
  • Share

Nineteen adult arcades in Duval County are ordered to close by 5 p.m. Monday after Jacksonville City Council action last month banning simulated gambling machines.

City code enforcement officers and the fire marshal served a notice to the businesses June 10 giving owners the deadline to “cease using and operating any simulated gambling device.”

Introduced by District 2 council member Al Ferraro in March, Ordinance 2019-209-E was enacted May 28 and prohibits the possession or use of simulated gambling devices by commercial businesses.

A list by city Municipal Code Compliance Division Chief Michael Chao shows at least 23 arcade businesses in Jacksonville are without certificates of use from the city.

According to the document, Fun Zone Arcade in Southside Estates does have a valid COU, but also will be shut down by the fire marshal because a firewall was moved in the building.

Ferraro's legislation classifies the simulated gambling establishments as a public nuisance. It references four shootings and multiple armed robberies at arcades throughout Jacksonville since January 2018.

A man was shot and killed May 1 at the Dream Arcade on Englewood Avenue during an armed robbery.

From January 2013 to September 2018, the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office received 28,315 calls associated with the approximately 90 arcades with COUs, according to the bill.

The ordinance also calls the simulated gambling devices “inherently deceptive” for tourists who might see the arcades as a “legal gambling entertainment option.”

The arcades with COUs from the city are allowed to operate through Aug 1. Any others also will have to shutter.

Businesses found in violation after the Aug. 1 deadline will face a $2,000 fine for a first offense; $5,000 for a second offense; and $10,000 for a third and subsequent offense.

The property owner of the violating business will be subject to a $1,000 fine.

The bill does not prohibit individuals from owning a simulated gambling device for personal or recreational use.



Special Offer: $5 for 2 Months!

Your free article limit has been reached this month.
Subscribe now for unlimited digital access to our award-winning business news.