Adult Businesses Could Face New Regulations

Strip clubs, adult bookstores and escort services are among the businesses that could be facing tougher laws in the City of Biloxi.

The city council held a workshop Tuesday to discuss changes to the way it oversees so-called "regulated use" businesses.

There is great detail in the new law. It covers everything from square footage requirements for video booths inside adult bookstores, to the specific dimensions of the stage inside a strip tease lounge.

The regulation aspect of the ordinance revolves around licensing and a "points system" for violations.

If approved by council, the requirements would be a definite change from the way the city oversees such businesses now.

Eric Kelly is a consultant for the City of Biloxi.

"Right now, Biloxi simply determines where they can be located and assumes everything will be okay if they're in a good location. Well, if there's good management that's true. If there's bad management, even if they're in a good location they can still cause problems. This will ensure there's good management in all the businesses that stay open," said Kelly.

One significant change in the law involves licensing. Adult oriented businesses would require a special license to operate.

Those businesses include: Sexually oriented theaters, Sexually oriented cabarets, sex shops and lingerie modeling stores.

Business owners would need to renew the license yearly and be subject to a "points system".

Points would be assessed for violating specific rules. That includes things like: no physical contact between customers and entertainers and proper lighting in adult bookstores. Too many points would mean a suspension or loss of license.

"By licensing individuals and establishments and making them police themselves then we can eliminate or take away the licenses of those that don't without putting everybody in the same category," said Ward 3 city councilman, Jim Compton.

Under the proposed point system, the managers of these regulated businesses would be responsible for what goes on inside their business. Those who helped develop the new rules say it's simply an issue of accountability.

"Taking operating control of these businesses and recognizing that the quality of management makes a big difference, is a big change," said Kelly.