Thursday was the last day for 8-liner gamerooms to operate illegally in San Patricio County, and that is exactly what the sheriff there says all of them have been doing.
That is why, earlier this month, Sheriff Leroy Moody sent out a warning to the gamerooms to either straighten up their actions, shut down or he would begin prosecution.
The gamerooms are illegal when they make cash payouts, or pay out winnings that have a cash value, like gift cards. Sheriff Moody said that is what all of the gamerooms in the county are doing.
Kiii News Reporter Mike DaSilva went out to the gamerooms on Thursday, but as you can imagine, getting people to talk about the gameroom establishments is quite the challenge. Most ignored the camera, or said they didn't know anything about what goes on inside the gamerooms.
However, not everyone was so camera shy. Those that were willing to speak explained why the gamerooms are so popular. The folks that play the gamerooms said it's something to do, it doesn't cost much, you can win big and that they're good for the community, bringing in much needed revenues; and they want the gamerooms to remain open.
"You've just got to know your limits. I only bring so much. This is what I brought with me. When it's gone, it's gone," said Vivian, a winter Texas from Canada. "At the Pink Flamingo three weeks ago, I won $1,500, on a Saturday... And I went back on Sunday and I won another $900. Now, mind you, that's a once in a lifetime thing."
"Well, it's a gamble. It's just like the lottery," Corpus Christi resident Lauro Medina said.
Sheriff Moody said there are, or were, 43 gamerooms in the County that he is aware of. On Thursday, some of the gamerooms in San Patricio County have shut down because of the sheriff's warning, but others remain open and bustling. Lots of the gamerooms have signs that use words like "amusement center" and "for amusement only", and "no cash payouts."
According to the sheriff, the gamerooms can remain open if they are used for amusement only; but if not, and they are operating illegally, he will take the necessary steps to begin prosecution. He said he does have jurisdiction, even in city limits.
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