Authorities raid game rooms in Fort Bend County
FORT BEND COUNTY, Texas – Game rooms in Fort Bend County are under tougher restrictions in 2016 and law enforcement is making their presence known.
Last year, deputies gave 25 game room owners until Oct. 31 to apply for permits, and those that didn't get a surprise visit from deputies Thursday.
"It doesn't matter if they didn't apply by 10-31 of '15, they drug their feet and that's not our problem," said Major James Hines, preparing his team for the raid.
Here are some of the new rules the county adopted in September 2015:
• A $1,000 permit.
• Can't operate within 1,500 feet of a school, place of worship or neighborhood.
• Can't operate within 2,000 feet of another game room.
• Game rooms can have slot machines, but prizes can't exceed $5.
• Businesses can only be open between 8 a.m.-10 p.m.
• Doors can't be locked and windows can't be tinted.
• Law enforcement is allowed to enter and make sure operators are following the rules.
"Game rooms in Harris County you've had homicides taking place, many of them have been robbed so we're just trying to prevent that from taking place here in Fort Bend County," said Troy Nehls, FBC sheriff.
Hines, Sgt. John Moore, and their team warned owners about the permit problem well in advance.
"Some just totally disregard it. Others apply and for some reason or another they're not granted a permit," said Moore.
One of the 10 game rooms deputies hit, one of them was a stone's throw from Shoab Prasla's dry cleaning business.
"I've seen so many people coming in and out all the time. What they do inside we don't know," Prasla said.
On Thursday, deputies arrested 11 people for operating without a permit. One person was charged with possession of meth.
"I'm glad," Prasla said with a laugh. "I'm glad to see that somebody's taking care of them."
All of those arrested face Class-A misdemeanors, which means a penalty of up to one in year in jail and/or up to a $4,000 fine.