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More than 100 arcades could be operating illegally in Southwest Florida

Posted at 5:44 PM, May 17, 2023

The Florida Gaming Control Commission (FGCC) has sent multiple letters to more than one hundred video arcades it suspects are operating illegally in Southwest Florida.

In Collier County, four letters were sent. In Lee, 59 and in Charlotte, 70 letters were sent, all to arcades that may be offering illegal slot machines.

Fox 4 spoke with Southwest Florida residents and business owners who said they didn't realize just how many of the arcades were operating illegally.

"I didn’t know it was illegal here," said business owner Tara Broyles. "I know it’s not legal everywhere but I didn’t particularly know here it was."

In fact, it's illegal to operate a slot machine in an arcade anywhere in Florida, except for Broward and Miami Dade Counties.

FGCC is calling this a critical public safety issue.

"These things are in violation of Florida law and they are also victimizing the public and taking advantage of them," said FGCC Director of Law Enforcement Carl Herold. "Our goal is to have them all closed."

Herold said since 2020, Florida has seen a significant increase in these illegal adult arcades. Since July 1, 2022, they report ramping up enforcement actions statewide.

"These sites breed further violent crimes like robberies shootings, prostitution human trafficking when you have that much cash on hand it breeds other violent crimes," said Eric Carr, FGCC Director of External Affairs. "To gather all the information to create a good enough criminal case for prosecution in court, it does take a while. You can’t just walk in or do it over a couple days. For a successful prosecution you have to collect a lot of information and that takes time."

If you suspect illegal gambling activity, FGCC is asking you to call your local law enforcement and file a complaint with the gaming commission so they can review it to try to stop the illegal activity here in our state.