Commissioner Corley to reintroduce game room regulations following shooting, hours after proposal was tabled

Regulations included an application process for permits, restricting the number of game rooms in Lubbock county and where they are located, as well as restricting hours of operation.
Currently, Lubbock county does not regulate game rooms beyond the state’s gambling laws, this causes concern among many city leaders
Published: Mar. 13, 2023 at 6:51 PM CDT|Updated: Mar. 13, 2023 at 9:55 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - Currently, Lubbock county does not regulate game rooms beyond the state’s gambling laws, this causes concern among many city leaders.

As written in the ordinance:

The Lubbock County Commissioners Court finds illicit game rooms, as a category of commercial uses, are associated with a wide variety of adverse secondary effects including but not limited to personal and property crimes, sex offenses and human trafficking, gambling offenses, negative impacts on surrounding properties, urban blight, and litter.

“The gambling is the least of my concerns. It is the drug trafficking, the prostitution, the human trafficking, that have been associated with some of these businesses,” Precinct 2 County Commissioner Jason Corley said.

“Texas legislature gave the counties the authority to regulate this industry about ten years ago and there are still no regulations. We’re basically living in the wild west,” Ben Garcia, a local attorney said.

The courtroom indeed felt more like the wild west as the debate became more intense with each disagreement.

The ordinance proposes:

In accordance with the authority and provisions of chapter 234 of the Texas local government code, restricting the number of game rooms within Lubbock county, providing for an application process, providing for other regulations, providing for a civil penalty for violation of these regulations, and providing for related matters. The Lubbock County Commissioners Court hereby designates and directs the Lubbock County Sheriff and his department to enforce these regulations.

The proposal would implement a “permit administrator” through the Lubbock County Sheriff’s Office to enforce the regulations across all game rooms within county limits. Lubbock County Sheriff Kelly Rowe said his department does not have the capacity or resources to enforce these regulations.

“All we’re doing is creating an umbrella of legitimacy over an otherwise illegal business in order to go onto full enforcement which would take tremendous resources,” Rowe said.

Commissioner Corley said he doesn’t need a full police squad in the game rooms, he wants someone with a clipboard to walk around and inspect the game rooms, to make sure they are operating according to ordinances.

“We don’t want to regulate this because that makes it legitimate,” Corley said. “Whether it’s legitimate or not it’s already happening.”

The court’s split decision led commissioners to table the proposal, setting it aside until September saying it will give them time to evaluate ways to fund the mandates in next year’s budget.

However, hours after the decision to table, Deputies with the Lubbock County Sheriff’s Office responded to a shooting at a game room near 92nd and Avenue P that left one person injured.

Commissioner Corley issued the following statement:

The events of today’s shooting at a local game room are an unfortunate reminder of the need for regulation and oversite by law enforcement in the gaming industry in Lubbock County. It is a sad irony that this tragic event happened little more than four hours after the Lubbock County Commissioner’s court tabled a motion to enact an ordinance to regulate game rooms in Lubbock County. The motion was tabled until September at the request of representatives of the Sheriff’s and District Attorneys’ offices. The events of today necessitate the need for action sooner rather than later. I will be adding this agenda item back to the Lubbock County Commissioners Court agenda for the March 21 regularly scheduled meeting at 10:00. For those who are able please be present before 10:00 if you wish to speak during public comment. For all those not able to be present the Commissioners Court is Live Streamed on the Lubbock County Website for you to view remotely.

Our prayers are with those who were injured.