CREATED Mar. 26, 2013
The statewide debate over internet cafes and adult arcades is coming to a head in Collier County. On Tuesday, supporters rallied in Naples protesting a bill that would ban the businesses.
Renee Sudler said she spends a lot of time playing games and making friends at adult arcade centers.
"The old folks cannot go sit down on a park bench for the rest of their lives." Sudler said.
It is a common trend Jamie Rowan said she sees at the Flamingo Vegas Style Games she manages in East Naples.
They're senior citizens they don't have anywhere they can go it's too far to drive they've got arthritis, they can't do a whole so this is somewhere they can go and socialize." Rowan said.
She said visitors pay to play for prizes like gift cards. But the players may have to find a new hangout spot if Florida lawmakers pull the plug on internet cafes and arcades.
Representative Carlos Trujillo sponsors the bill and said what these businesses are doing is illegal.
"A lot of them are also giving loaded debit cards which is gambling and it's illegal under the state. They could change their business model they could continue to operate, they might not be as profitable." Rep. Carlos Trujillo (R)- Miami, said.
He said it has been an on-going problem but has gained a lot of recent attention after Florida Lt. Governor Jennifer Carroll resigned due to her ties with officials from a non-profit internet cafe facing racketeering charges.
" I think over the last couple of weeks some of the events have shown us is that a lot of these industries don't contribute anything to the state of Florida and provide nothing to our citizens." Rep. Trujillo said.
But Jamie Rowan doesn't see it that way, she said the arcades not only provide seniors entertainment but put a roof over her head.
"I'll be out of a job a home ill be out of everything and trying to get a job right now in this economy, is not going to happen." Rowan said.
The bill is expected to go before the State Senate in the upcoming weeks.