JACKSONVILLE, Fla — The internet cafes scattered around Jacksonville have become big businesses with an economic impact on the community and representatives for the industry said losing the cafes will hurt.
"Over two thousand employees are going to lose their jobs immediately with virtually no notice," Kelly Mathis said.
The problem is city officials have determined the gaming centers are a public nuisance. The city council has voted to get rid of them.
"I've been getting calls from customers, I've been getting calls from the operators [saying] 'what are we going to do'," Mathis said. "They feel betrayed by the city.
Attorney Kelly Mathis represents three corporations in a lawsuit filed against the city in early October. The aim of the lawsuit is to stop the city's enforcement of a February deadline.
Tuesday, the city council changed the deadline. Lawmakers approved a new ordinance that calls for Internet cafes to immediately remove simulated gambling devices or close their doors, as soon as the mayor signs the bill into law.
"The game room owners are just frustrated, they don't understand what happened," Mathis said. "They were promised by city council you have until February first."
Mathis said the owners thought they would have time to wind down their business, and that was taken away from them.
"This is where government loses its credibility," he said.
If and when Mayor Lenny Curry signs the new bill into law, Mathis is promising a fight.
"We are going to seek an injunction to prevent or at least delay the enforcement of this ordinance until the court has a chance to look at it," he said.
The mayor's staff said he may sign the legislation sometime next week. He is using the rest of the week to review the law.