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City of Beaumont reviewing guidelines for game rooms featuring 8-liners
BEAUMONT-By: Leslie Rangel
Beaumont Police and city staff believe a proposed ordinance will help them close the door to illegal game rooms.
They want to ensure the operators of game rooms are playing by the same rules that affect other businesses.
Beaumont Police say about sixty percent of the gaming sites don't have certificates of occupancy or fire regulations.
Some critics believe game rooms are havens for crime, police and the city say if the operators are honest, there's no problem.
During a work session this afternoon at the city council meeting we learned the ins and outs of the ordinance.
It was drafted by detectives with the Beaumont Police department and staff with the city attorney's office.
It's important to note, we're not talking about pizza parlors or golf courses with electronic games.
Police estimate at least 40 gaming sites like this one are operating within Beaumont city limits.
We found some of the sites by going up to the doors and seeing them for ourselves.
Others were pointed out to us by people who live by them..
Police and city staff say one of the biggest problems with regulating gaming sites is how they're labeled.
They say some are listed as gift shops, others have no signage at all.
Even if some of the gaming rooms were operating illegally, it's difficult to investigate because police need probable cause.
That usually requires a tip that a game room is violating state law and offering cash prizes or prizes that are worth more than five dollars.
Police hope the proposed new rules will help them gain access to allow investigations, that's why they want to begin asking the sites to put up proper signage and have certificates showing how many people can be inside of a building.
The city attorney's office says it doesn't want to make it difficult for people to operate game rooms it just wants to make sure there is no illegal gambling and everyone is playing fairly.
We also spoke with a man who says he owns several machines around town, but is not the operator.
He says the ordinance is overreaching and targets everyone, not just those with illegal activities.
There is also a part of the ordinance that will look at zoning issues, making sure the sites are not within 300 feet of a school or church.
The city says if the original use of a building was not a game room, it will be grandfathered into its location.
The council is expected to vote on this ordinance by the end of the month.
BEAUMONT - The City of Beaumont is considering new guidelines for game rooms that feature 8-liner machines.
Critics have said game rooms can be havens from crimes, including robberies. Some cities in Texas have cracked down on game room and 8-liner machines.
They remain popular with patrons, although under state law, game rooms are not supposed to pay out in cash prizes and non-cash prizes must be under $5.