The Rockport City Council, at its regular meeting Tuesday, June 9, unanimously approved an ordinance declaring a six-month moratorium on the acceptance of applications for the issuance of permits for the use of a location as an Internet sweepstakes cafe or similar gaming machine establishment in the city.
“We’ve had a rash of requests lately,” said City Manager Kevin Carruth. “Our attorney looked at our ordinances and said we don’t have enough regulation in them. This six-month moratorium will give us time to work on (an ordinance to address such establishments).”
Police Chief Greg Stevens said, “I can’t emphasize enough what problems (these businesses) bring to a community.
“They tend to leach off the people that can least afford it.”
After sharing a story about a robbery of such an establishment in Lubbock (from where Stevens retired), he said, “I recommend as your chief law enforcement official not to allow this.”
He noted the laws under which such operators do business regulate businesses such as Chuck E. Cheese.
“It’s not the money a customer wins (at Internet sweepstakes cafes and similar gaming machine establishments), it’s the dopamine that kicks in (and they get hooked),” said Stevens.
“They victimize people (who if they hadn’t played the games) would have had the money to use on other things (like food, medicine, etc.).”
Carruth noted such businesses haven’t been a problem inside the city limits, but surrounding cities have faced problems with this issue.
“It seems like every one of them get robbed at some point,” said Councilman Mike Saski.
“And nobody will call the police because they are illegal operations,” said Stevens.
He said enforcement really falls on individual cities.
“I can’t recommend strongly enough to prevent these from coming in,” said the chief.