By Dawn Krebs
MARTIN COUNTY -- People took to the streets on Sunday, rallying against the proposed ban on adult arcade ban proposed by state government.
A bill proposing a ban on Internet cafes passed the House on Friday, and by Monday, the Senate's version of the bill moved through its first committee.
The ban doesn't focus on just Internet cafes, but has also turned its sights on banning adult arcades that have casino-type games.
And it's that detail that caused residents of Martin County to pick up some signs and rally in support of the adult arcades.
One of those protesting the suggested change was Susan Martin, owner of Susie Q's Arcade in Martin County.
"This is going to impact so many people," she said. "It's going to impact the seniors that just want to enjoy some time in an arcade and it's going to impact the people's jobs that work around here."
Casinos as a whole received scrutiny when it was discovered recently that one casino group, Allied Veterans, gave very little of the money they raised to actual veterans' groups.
But Ms. Martin explained that the local arcades operate legally, paying out gift cards instead of cash.
"The people that come in, they put money on a card, and use the card to play the games," she explained. "Then, if they win, they win gift certificates or gift cards to area businesses."
She emphasized that the people who play in the local arcades can't win cash.
"They don't win cash, they only win gift cards," she said. "These machines have nothing to do with paying out cash."
So on Sunday, March 24, a group of arcade owners and customers came together to hold signs saying, "Save Our Arcades."
Ms. Martin hopes that by growing awareness of what the local arcades actually do, it will educate local lawmakers on the economic growth these small businesses have brought to the community.
"We all pulled together," she said. "Hopefully, it can make a difference."