New Laws For Adult Businesses

Published: Oct. 8, 2001 at 6:16 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

Biloxi officials are considering major adjustments in rules governing adult cabarets, escort services, X-rated video arcades, pawnshops and day-labor services. The proposals, received by the Biloxi City Council last week, involve a new point system based on clearly spelled-out regulations to determine whether the businesses could continue to operate.

Businesses in the Gulf Coast city are now regulated through location and zoning restrictions. A new licensing ordinance would make businesses responsible for what occurs on their premises. Lap dancing at an adult cabaret or peep holes in arcade booths are examples of violations that would result in points being levied against a business. A business could have its license to operate suspended or revoked if it reaches a specific number of points. These points would also be considered when businesses reapply each year for permits, another new requirement under consideration. Council members will discuss the proposals during a special workshop Tuesday.

The 48-page ordinance is the result of more than a year of work by a team of lawyers and urban planners. ``People are going to start doing the right thing if they want to do business in our city,'' said David Staehling, director of planning and development for the city. The team was headed by Eric Kelly, a consultant with Duncan Associates who is an expert on the regulation of sexually oriented businesses. Kelly said the changes proposed for Biloxi can be compared to the way the state restricts liquor sales. ``If there's a bar where there are fights every night, even though the manager is never involved and the manager calls police, at some point the state comes in and says, 'Folks, you're not going to have a license anymore','' Kelly said. ``We're taking the same sort of approach.''

Owners and managers of regulated businesses would be subject to background checks and could not be licensed if they have committed certain crimes, including drug violations, racketeering, rape, pornography and prostitution. The new laws would address businesses not included in the old laws such as escort services, massage parlors and lingerie modeling.

Massage establishments will be allowed to operate only if the therapists are registered with the Mississippi State Board of Massage Therapy. Sixteen escort services currently operate in the city, according to the BellSouth Yellow Pages. Only one has a physical address listed. The city will begin requiring escort services to have offices and keep records if the council approves the new laws, which are patterned after ones Las Vegas adopted.