Fort Worth

Fort Worth police raid game room in suspected illegal gambling operation

Gary Seigler plays a sweepstakes machine, which are similer to eight liners, at the VFW Friday December 2, 2011 in Mineral Wells, Texas.
Gary Seigler plays a sweepstakes machine, which are similer to eight liners, at the VFW Friday December 2, 2011 in Mineral Wells, Texas. Star-Telegram archives

Police have served a warrant for illegal gambling at a game room that was also on Fort Worth’s temporary restraining order list after a lawsuit was filed against the city over a new ordinance restricting game rooms.

The warrant, served last week at 2611 of N.E. 28th St., came after a two week investigation for illegal gambling at the site, and was not related to the recently-passed city ordinance that restricts how the owners of eight-liners and other games of chance can operate, said Cpt. Tracey Knight, a Fort Worth police spokeswoman.

Knight could not release what evidence was taken, but said no arrests have been made in the case.

Though gambling is illegal in Texas, gaming machines are legal if they are used “only for bona fide amusement purposes” and award players only with non-cash prizes.

Under the ordinance unanimously approved by City Council members in October, game rooms are allowed to operate only in industrial-zoned areas of the city, and they are not allowed within 1,000 feet of a residential area, a church, a school or a hospital. They have to be marked with the words “game room” and have at least one unobstructed window allowing a view of all the machines.

Several lawsuits have since been filed against the city over the ordinance and consolidated into one case to be heard by state District Judge David Evans. Because of the lawsuits, specific game room locations were placed under a temporary restraining order, and the ordinance could not be enforced at those locations.

The location of the raid was a business on the temporary restraining order list, Knight said.

The claims in the suits are similar, including that the city’s ordinance is pre-empted by state law, which already regulates the games of chance; that the ordinance is needlessly restrictive, including not allowing minors on the premises; that it constitutes a taking of income and investments, and that the city cannot enforce the strict regulations through zoning.

Caty Hirst, 817-390-7984

Twitter: @catyhirst

  Comments