Police get new tools battling illegal game rooms

Police are using new tools thanks to new rules to crack down on illegal game rooms across Houston
Friday, June 06, 2014
In the fight against illegal game rooms, a new law may finally be giving opponents some long-awaited help.

After court challenges and delays, new rules went into effect last week giving Harris County the tools to get tough. Deputy sheriffs and constables wasted no time and moved in, charging 14 alleged operators and potentially fining these casino-like store fronts as much as 4 million dollars for breaking new county rules.

Two alleged operators were charged at the Antoine Game Room Thursday. It's one of at least 10 game rooms busted across the county.

Friday, the place was full of machines, but the doors were padlocked.

Across town, two more people were charged at the Blue Room Game Room on McDermott, according to court filings. Neither sheriff's investigators nor people who live near by wanted to talk to us about the busts.

The new rules force game rooms with six or more video poker machines or 8-liners to register, pay a fee, close overnight, post a game room sign and prohibit any sort of private membership.

13 Undercover went inside local game rooms with hidden cameras in september finding private game rooms with stacks of cash freely changing hands. In the days after that 13 Undercover report, one of the clerks at one of the game rooms 13 Undercover visited was murdered in an alleged robbery.

That game room shut down and moved after the murder, but it highlights what law enforcement says is the lure of these illegal quasi-casinos.

The Sheriff's Office tells us in the 10 busts they've been they've seen more than 400 game room violations and have a long list of potential targets on their lists.
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