JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – On Monday, Oct. 21, city inspectors and police from the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, began shutting down internet cafés, or adult arcades, that received cease-and-desist notices last week.
The businesses had five days from the time of receiving the notices to remove simulated gambling devices.
Action News Jax reported earlier this month when the city passed an ordinance immediately outlawing simulated gambling devices.
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In this round of inspections, businesses found with the gambling machines faced being condemned on the spot.
A total of 83 cafes were inspected today.
Seventy-five of the businesses were closed and seven were vacant.
One location was open at the time inspectors arrived, but the owner and employees were removing the machines.
According to city records, 67 of the businesses were condemned on Monday.
Action News Jax spoke to an internet café operator who was waiting on city inspectors to arrive today.
“This is the toughest day that I can say that I’ve probably ever had in my life, is closing this business down,” said Copa Arcade operator, Dewayne Williams.
About 112 simulated gambling devices within the arcade Williams operates were unplugged, and the front doors were locked. A hand written “closed” sign was posted to the door.
“A lot of landlords are just going to be sitting here with vacant buildings and a whole lot less income,” he said.
Action News Jax Reporter Ryan Nelson spoke to Jacksonville City Council president Scott Wilson on the phone this afternoon.
He tells us he realizes more work needs to be done to find new businesses to fill the space left behind by the approximately 175 businesses to be closed this week.
“I recognize that closing them down does pose existing problems for shopping center owners and businesses adjacent to those,” said Wilson. “While I don’t have any solutions today, I’m open to, and listening to my constituents to help develop ideas to assist them.”
While the city has no definite plans to fill vacant storefronts right now, the city does offer small business assistance and loans to small businesses through the office of economic development.
Williams isn’t confident the spaces will be filled soon and fears the lack of businesses could lead to squatting or other issues.
“I don’t know how they can bring a merchant in here to fill one of these spaces,” he said.
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