Arcades are going to make a back in Jacksonville, and not just any arcades, but those designated for adults. A new bill pitched by council member Garrett Dennis seeks to make those Internet cafés legal once again and has a decent chance of succeeding.
Adult Arcades Need to Be Regulated
The bill comes several years after mayor Lenny Curry insisted that any gambling-like machine should be removed from those venues back in 2019. The mayor said that non-compliant entities will be simply shut down forcibly.
Most complied. Some went underground. Now, though, the need to return these machines has grown even more obvious. But not everyone agrees, as a former City Council member, Leanna Cumber, argues that the societal ills these machines bring along with them are not worth the price.
First responders and the general danger to the public are too high a price to pay for restoring these machines, Cumber said. She was one of the people to back the original move by the mayor to suspend the machine. Dennis is more upbeat about the prospects, and specifically the additional tax revenue that can be raised from such venues. He explained:
“Regulating them, this makes operators pay their fair share of city services, tax revenue and also keeping consumers safe.”
Jacksonville council member Garrett Dennis
The council member warned that inaction is hardly a better alternative as it would enable illegal gambling operations to thrive. Dennis believes that reopening arcades will work, provided that the right regulatory framework is put in place.
For example, one way to address the issue is to restrict the number of total licenses that can be issued. For Duval County, this number should be no greater than 20, Dennis says. Further background checks will be required to issue such licenses as well, and any business owner with a criminal past may be excluded from receiving a license.
Finding More Ways to Raise Tax Dollar
Jacksonville can further raise money by simply levying the games with $250 per game annually, which will guarantee a more steady income to the budget despite how much actual gambling action takes place. There will be additional monitoring and certification procedures to ensure that all adult arcade venues are compliant with the highest integrity and regulatory standards.
The money from arcades can then be used to help the public purse. Besides, right now it’s the fire marshal department that has to deal with illegal arcades. So, it’s not just that people allow black market operations to thrive – they also have to foot the bill for dismantling them. Dennis seems to believe there is an easy solution to all of this – regulate the market.