City leaders respond favorably to arcade roundup


Several of Pine Bluff’s elected officials responded favorably to Wednesday’s raids on a number of video game arcades in Pine Bluff, Jefferson County, Hot Springs and Little Rock.

Multiple law enforcement agencies — including the Pine Bluff Police Department and Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office — took part in the raids, which were made in an effort to curtail illegal gambling operations and other offenses.

Mayor Debe Hollingsworth said she wasn’t “surprised” by the raids.

“My office has received numerous telephone calls and complaints on several arcades that we were told were committing violations,” Hollingsworth said Thursday. “In fact, we had recently met with some arcade owners here in an effort to alleviate some problems. My understanding is that warrants were served only on those arcades where cash had been received illegally.”

The mayor said she personally has “nothing against” arcades in general.

“Oh, no,” she said. “We’re not against arcades that conduct their business in a legal manner, but we are opposed to any that don’t follow the law. We won’t tolerate illegal operations.”

Hollingsworth said she appreciated the concerted effort of the city police and county sheriff’s deputies.

“I think they did a great job working with one another and the other agencies,” she said. “They took care of business without anyone being injured, and I’m especially glad for that.”

Alderman Wayne Easterly said his knowledge of the situation is limited to “what I’ve read in the paper,” but he supports any effort to stop illegal activities.

“If you break the law, you have to pay the price,” he said, “and the businesses involved were apparently breaking the law.”

Alderman Steven Mays echoed Hollingsworth in praising the law enforcement officers.

“The police did a good job in seeing and taking care of illegal gambling in the community,” he said. “I think the cooperation between the county and the city makes for a good effort in reducing crime here.”

Alderwoman Thelma Walker — who during a recent city council controversy concerning closing times of local bars and private clubs suggested “something should be done” instead about “game rooms” — was quiet on Wednesday’s developments.

“I don’t have a comment,” she said.