Cuba has formally cracked down on its nascent arcade businesses, specifically forbidding their operation after they had opened and operated in a gray area uncovered by the law there for the past three years.
Arcades and movie theaters are banned—"immediately"—Cuba's government said on Saturday, according to the CBC. These establishments are not among the 200 types of independent enterprises authorized by the Communist state.
But, explains the CBC, they had sprouted up using licenses for businesses that are—typically as independent restaurants, even though the food and refreshments they served were ancillary to the entertainment these parlors offered.
Some arcade and cinema owners had sunk large sums into launching or improving their businesses—"which range from modest to flashy and offer the latest Hollywood blockbusters and fast-paced video games," the CBC reported.
Owners complained that they should have been given a window of time in which to wind down their operations—and potentially recover some of that investment. Parents and kids alike complain that there now is nothing to do.
Earlier, Cuba's official newspaper for the Communist Party youth inveighed against the arcades, saying they promote "frivolity, mediocrity, pseudo culture and banality." That put handwriting on the wall for a crackdown.
Cuba, in 2010, instituted economic reforms that allowed, among other things, the sale of homes and used cars, and authorized certain types of private-sector jobs. Cuba's communist party newspaper said on Saturday that the elimination of cinemas and arcades was necessary to keep that economic reform program going forward in an orderly manner.
"This is not, in any way, taking a step back," it said. "On the contrary, we will keep advancing decidedly in the updating of the Cuban economic model."
Cuba Bans Video Game Salons, Private Cinemas [CBC, h/t a b]