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Nueces County Commissioners to consider gameroom ordinance

Nueces County Commissioners to consider gameroom ordinance
Posted at 7:45 PM, Apr 19, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-19 23:37:29-04

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — With gamerooms popping up across Nueces County, the commissioners court is considering a proposed ordinance that would regulate them.

Commissioners who support the ordinance are acting in response to complaints about illegal activity going on inside the buildings where people play slot machine-style games and crimes like muggings outside of them.

“I support some sort of ordinance," Commissioner for Precinct 4 Brent Chesney said. "And I think we’ve done a pretty good job of putting this one together.”

Chesney says they've spent months consulting with local law enforcement and others to come up with the proposed ordinance that they'll likely vote on during their meeting Wednesday.

He's not the only member of the court who supports it.

“I’ve never been to (a gameroom), but I think they should be regulated," Commissioner for Precinct 1 Robert Gonzalez said. "There should be some rules there."

If commissioners approve the ordinance, those rules would cover a number of issues.

Most notably, there would be limits on where gamerooms are located and when they can operate and what kind of punishment they'll face if they violate the ordinance.

It calls for gamerooms to be no closer than 1,500 feet away from schools, churches, and neighborhoods.

The hours of operation would only between 10 a.m. and 9 p.m.

Violations would carry a fine of up to $10,000 per offense and up to a year in the county jail for the gameroom operator.

Some Corpus Christi city leaders also support the proposed ordinance.

“I think it’s important that we regulate (gamerooms)," District 1 Member Billy Lerma said. "I think they need to receive permits just like everything else that we have — especially like our bingo establishments."

Another councilman says the commissioners court is the only governmental body that can enact such an ordinance that could make it easier for police to bust gamerooms that are operating illegally — like offering cash prizes.

“The way the state law is drafted, the county commissioners are responsible for adopting the law and how the policy will work with respect to gamerooms," At-Large Member Mike Pusley said. "And (Corpus Christi Police) Chief (Mike) Markle said, as soon as they get that done, then they can enforce it."

Some gamerooms could be operating legally.

But Chesney says, for those that aren't, this ordinance will help the city and county shut them down.

“If they’re a good game room, and they’re doing everything by the book, then they won’t have any problem," Chesney said. "If they’re not, then they’ll have a little bit of a problem with this ordinance.”

To view the proposed ordinance, click here.