Adult arcade owners, patrons unhappy over gaming legislation



BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. - Adult arcade owners are angry about proposed state legislation that would shut them down.

They say they're being lumped in with Internet cafes and are unfairly targeted by lawmakers.

This new legislation would forbid arcades like the Monte Carlo in Brevard County to give away gift cards. It also wouldn't allow patrons to accumulate points, limit prizes to about 75 cents per game and, the operators said, effectively put many arcades out of business.

Wednesday afternoon dozens of visitors to the Monte Carlo Arcade went from patrons to protesters.

"Nobody's hurting anybody. We're meeting people. Don't take our arcades away from us," said patron Marybeth Ann Donohu.

Right now, adult arcade patrons like Donohu and arcade owners are afraid the new legislation will shut down the storefront businesses.

"We were here before those Internets [cafes] got here," said Monte Carlo Manager Pat Spurgin.

Adult arcades like the Monte Carlo, offer gift cards rather than cash prizes. Operators also said theirs are games of skill.

Arcades and adult amusement centers operate under a different statute than Internet cafes, but they've been linked in new legislation that would shut down all storefront gaming centers.

"I think they should listen to us, what we want not what they want. This is America," said arcade patron Anita Tierce.

Local operators told Channel 9's Melonie Holt that they believe they're victims of the backlash from the Allied Veterans multistate investigation that resulted in dozens of arrests and prompted the resignation of Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll.

The arcade operators insisted that the investigation shouldn't also put them out of business.

The Florida Senate is expected to vote on its bill prohibiting electronic gambling devices this week.