A federal judge is being asked to decide whether Harris County's rules on game rooms are unconstitutional. A game room owner sued the county, sheriff's department, district attorney and Houston's mayor claiming new rules passed last year are too vague.
“The government is allowed to regulate certain types of businesses and we believe game rooms are one of them. We'll find out shortly from a federal judge if he agrees,” says Jori Herrscher at the county attorney's office.
The regulations passed in December require any place with six or more video poker machines to undergo inspections and permitting, pay a $1000 annual fee, limit hours of operation and where they can set up.
“A lot of people think gambling should be legal in Texas, we're not here to say it shouldn't be, all we're saying is right now it is illegal,” Herrscher tells KTRH News. “Gambling in Texas is a violation of the law, and we'll file our nuisance abatement lawsuits and our regulation lawsuits against those people.”
Herrscher says authorities know of hundreds of illegal gaming operations within Harris County, but enforcement is not so easy.
“We do get calls on these and we do go investigate,” he says. “But what it takes is an undercover police officer going in and playing these games, then receiving an illegal payout. They then can go to the district attorney's office and file charges.”