A North Fort Myers arcade reacts to gaming center ban
Photo: Video by fox4now.com
NORTH FORT MYERS, Fla. - Backers of this law say it's to keep arcades and internet cafes from exploiting loop holes to skirt Florida's gambling laws. But the owners of such a business on Pondella Road tell another story.
After more than seven years of business, Debra and Keith Ramey are closing up shop. But not by choice.
"We celebrate birthdays and anniversaries together and it's a very sad day," said Debra.
The Rameys own the High Limits Arcade in North Fort Myers. The machines give out gift certificates instead of cash prizes.
"It's not like we're an illegally run business," added Keith.
But soon it will be. The governor signed a bill banning them and it's effective immediately, unless they can modify the machines in ways that seem impossible to most business owners.
"It's just not feasible," expressed Debra. "This is the 21st century, people don't carry change."
"Yea, I'm irritated," Keith added. "We have a lot of money invested in a business we lawfully own," he said.
But they say it's the the friendships here that mean the most.
"It's not just a business," said Debra. "This is more than an adult arcade?" asked Fox 4 reporter Gabrielle Sarann. "Yes, we're a family."
The Rameys know how every customer takes their coffee. They take care of one another.
"If we're missing a customer, [if he] doesn't come in for a few days, we're on the phone calling and checking on them," explained Debra.
People like Victoria were in tears when they found out the arcade was closing. Her sister, Ruby Soulis, looks after her.
"She has uncontrollable epilepsy and a few other diseases," explained Soulis, about her sister. "What does it mean to bring her here?" asked Sarann. "Piece of mind for me and she loves it."
The Rameys blame the legislature for forcing them to close.
"We're stuck with with a room full of machines that are going to be absolutely worthless," concluded Keith.
Although their business is closed, the Rameys plan to keep the machines there for another month or so, just in case they find a way to fight this and win.