Not all game rooms in Odessa upset with new restrictions
Feb 23, 2013 (Odessa American - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
At least some Odessans are in favor of a new ordinance restricting gaming establishments.
The ordinance, approved by the Odessa City Council Feb. 12, provides stricter regulations for gaming establishments to try to ensure they are operating legally, Odessa Chief of Police Tim Burton said.
"I like the ordinance and the police around here because I want my customers to be safe," Chere Proler, owner of Spinners game room, said.
Proler, 62, purchased Spinners, 1401 E. 7th St., about three years ago and also owns game rooms in Sweetwater and Slaton.
She said Spinners has been robbed twice at gun point in the last year, forcing the business to increase security and keep small amounts of cash on hand.
Proler's complaints are not unusual for game rooms.
Burton said recently the city has had problems with illegal gambling, drug trafficking and robberies at local game rooms because of the large amounts of cash at the establishments.
"(The new ordinance) affords us not only requirements for licensing and inspection, but also requirements associated with the structure of the building and hours of operation in this type of gaming activity," Burton said after the ordinance was approved Feb. 12. "It provides for inspections, regulations related to who can use the machines, how the facility can be accessed, how the machines can be inspected by the police. It tightens up what is currently a fairly unregulated industry."
Burton said there was a business regulation ordinance in place but there wasn't anything specific to gaming establishments.
"We're very hopeful this will help us regulate those establishments that are regulating lawfully and hopefully close down those that are not," he said.
The City of Midland hasn't had the same issues with game rooms, Midland Public Information Officer Sara Higgins said.
"We have not recently seen any widespread violations in relation to game rooms or illegal gambling in the City of Midland," Higgins said in an email Friday.
Proler is determined to keep her businesses legal.
Her game rooms are what she calls sweepstakes rooms, where people put phone cards into a computer or game machine and win points in the form of phone calls. When a customer wins the jackpot, she takes them out herself on a shopping spree instead of handing out cash, she said.
"We had 8-liners a few years ago but got rid of them," she said. "It brought in a rowdier crowd. My rooms are more laid back."
Gilbert Leal and his wife Mary Ann Leal have been driving from their home in Big Spring to Spinners in Odessa about twice a week for the past two years.
"You can relax, play, win or lose and make friends," Mary Ann Leal said. "The games are exciting."
Mary Ann said they also like Spinners because they give out gift cards instead of cash.
"We're kind of afraid of the cash game rooms because they might not be legal," she said.
The OA was unable to reach any other game rooms in Odessa.
--Contact Michelle Brownstone on twitter at @OAcitylife or on Facebook at OA Michelle Brownstone or call 432-333-7782.
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