Las Vegas, Nevada. It's a hot spot where people go to play hard and win big. It's a long drive from west Texas but you might not have to travel far to try your luck. Game rooms filled with eight-line slot machines are popping up like dollar signs in Lubbock County.
Down west 19th you'll find Smokes and Slots. In east Lubbock there is Charity Sweepstakes. Even at two o'clock in the afternoon, these businesses are often packed. But just how legitimate are they? NewsChannel 11 sent our photographer in with a hidden camera, to find out.
"What's the most you've won here?" I got like $80 but there was a girl the other day that won $400. She had all sevens across," said one player. Eight-liner operations claim the machines are perfectly legal. Signs read 'Tickets are for Amusement Only. No Cash Value.' But that's not what we found out. We asked "So what do you win, you win prizes or do you just do this for fun?" "No, you win money," said a player.
We then showed this video to District Attorney Bill Sowder and Assistant D.A. John Grace. "This whole concept of seeing that in Lubbock, as a District Attorney, just bothers me, it doesn't seem like it's a legitimate business. Like I said we've given them an inch and they've run with it and taken a mile," Sowder says.
For example, Charity Sweepstakes claims their business is legit because they donate part of their money to the Omega Education Foundation. But Sowder says that's still illegal. "You can't just simply say 'because I give a dollar at the very beginning somehow everything else I win off this game is somehow legal because I gave to charity before I started playing," Sowder says.
Sowder told NewsChannel 11 that he intends to pull the plug on the Eight-Liner business in Lubbock County.
The Texas Court of Appeals has given Lubbock prosecutors the go ahead to enforce the law. Starting next week, Eight-Liner operators will receive a letter giving them the option, close down your business voluntarily or be forced to close down. "If they continue to operate and continue to violate the law then we will enforce the law by making arrests, seizing equipment, and taking their assets and putting them out of business," says Asst. D.A. John Grace.
Even those who play the machines seem to sense that Eight-Liner operators are walking a fine line and soon their luck will run out. "I don't know how long they'll get to stay open in our story," says another Eight-Liner player.
We mentioned only a few local eight liner operations. But since eight liners first began reappearing in Lubbock five months ago, dozens of businesses have opened and closed. Some charities use them for fund raising, and say they should be exempt from the law but at this point, the DA's office says they intend to strictly enforce the law and take each case as it comes.