July 2, 2022
Vice economy
Vice economy
Vice economy

Special Report from Florida Trend

Florida's vice economy

Times have changed: Many activities that once carried a moral or even criminal taint now operate more like regulated businesses than criminal enterprises.

Mike Vogel | 11/28/2017

Vice [ VIS ] noun

  • immoral or wicked behavior.
  • criminal activities involving prostitution, pornography, or drugs.
  • an immoral or wicked personal characteristic.
  • a weakness of character or behavior; a bad habit.

The Trends

  • Legal gambling has all but driven out illegal gambling.
  • A host of ordinances is driving many strip clubs away from heavily traveled streets into industrial park-type settings. Meanwhile, some dancers are suing clubs for not paying them minimum wage.
  • The U.S. Supreme Court may rule in favor of expanded sports betting, but Florida may be slow to jump on the bandwagon.
  • Enforcement of prostitution law varies widely throughout the state, but law enforcement agencies tend to agree that the focus needs to be on going after pimps and human traffickers while getting prostitutes drug, job or other counseling.

The Story in the Stats

To see how social attitudes toward vice have changed, consider these law enforcement statistics:

  • Between 2000-16, the number of arrests for prostitution in Florida statewide dropped 82%, from 6,431 to 1,138. Compared to the number of arrests in 1990, arrests in 2016 were down by nearly 90%.
  • Florida used to arrest more male clients of prostitutes, both in absolute numbers and as a percentage of overall prostitution-related arrests. In 2000, two-thirds of all prostitution arrests involved adult males; in 2016, only a little more than 40% of the 1,138 prostitution-related arrests were men.
  • Gambling arrests fell 90%, from 1,104 in 1990 to just 109 in 2016.
  • Arrests for liquor law violations fell from 40,791 in 1990 to 15,641 in 2000 to 7,829 in 2016.

Each of the stories below contains an in-depth look at the economics driving the vice economy in Florida.

VICE: Gambling

VICE: Strip Clubs

VICE: Prostitution

VICE: Bootlegging


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