“Why would it be any different for them to do it when it’s illegal than it would be for these other places to do it?” he asked rhetorically. “We didn’t shut them down, we didn’t get TABC to come in and take their licenses, that’s not the point. The point is to stop the illegal gambling. Until something happens in the legislature that makes it legal, it’s still illegal.
“They’d all been told before that this was probably going to come at some point in time. I didn’t feel like we could do one without doing all of them. It was a joint decision between us, the PD and the district attorney’s office to go ahead and take care of all of it at once. So we did.”
Another reason for shutting down these gambling operations was the presence of drugs and drug dealing, as evidenced by the three arrests.
While not all locations harbored such activity, Mercer said it was a strong incentive for the raid.
“Not all the locations were of the nature that draw unsavory characters that deal drugs, but a lot of them were,” he said. “They seem to be a bastion for those type folks for some reason. That’s one good reason not to have them here.”
A common question that has surfaced in the wake of the successful gambling sting is how these places would be allowed to open in Mineral Wells in the first place, if they are illegal.
City Manager Lance Howerton said the answer is “not quite as cut and dry as it might seem.”
He explained Mineral Wells’ zoning ordinance in detail and how it allows for what is referred to as “amusement centers.” Such entertainment facilities can legally include anything from bowling and arcade games to billiards and batting cages. Coin-operated games, whether they are at Chuck E. Cheese’s or a casino, qualify a location as an amusement center, he noted, but added that the city does not issue permits for these businesses.