State law bans internet cafes and adult arcades and most of them shut their doors when Governor Scott signed House Bill 155. But some are taking their chances and staying open.
We’ve learned several adult arcades reopened their doors after some thought they’d be closed forever. State law now defines these establishments as illegal after years of being in operation. In fact, the statute says if someone sits down at the machines and partakes in the fun, they could face a misdemeanor charge.
Wednesday afternoon, arcades across the state say their rights were stripped in a flash and they say they’re fighting back with some civil disobedience.
Vegas Three Casino in Cape Coral, and others adult arcades in Lee County, reopened their doors just days after a law banned their businesses.
“You’re legal on Wednesday morning but you’re illegal Wednesday afternoon, April 10th. It’s a little tough to fathom. In fact, maybe we haven’t,” said owner Jim Graham. Graham calls the new statue unfair.
With hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of investment in the machines, he says he worries if the law stands up in court – he’ll lose big.
Graham says he’s betting, gamers’ voices will echo all the way to Tallahassee.
“If I want to come in here spend 10, 20 dollars and I lose – whose business is it?” asked internet café player Maria Messina. “My concern is politicians think they know better than us,” added player Michelle Lockwood.
Cape Coral Police officers say they’re still reviewing the new law and consulting with the State Attorney’s Office on enforcement. They added they aren’t rushing to shut the establishments down.
They explained that – if and when the time comes – they plan to enforce the law, despite being highly unpopular in the gaming crowd.
“There’s a phrase we use here at the police department especially when it comes to training. ‘Don’t be in a hurry to get it wrong.’ We want to take our time and do it right and make sure all the stakeholders are involved,” said Lt. Tony Sizemore, with the Cape Coral Police Department.
Sizemore says there’s no set day when they’re start cracking down, adding there’s no plan to send officers out to arrest anybody playing in the cafes.
The Florida Arcade and Bingo Association plans to sue the state and ask a judge to stop the law from going into effect.
Article by Steve Campion, www.nbc-2.com