Howerton further explained that gambling machines, such as the sweepstakes computers, are not illegal per se, it all depends on the way they are used. Likewise there legal and illegal ways to use gambling equipment.
“When the first of these were introduced in our community, the consensus was that this was a legal application of that type of equipment,” Howerton said. “That has since changed, based on [Texas] attorney general opinions and case law that has come down in the last few months. You have to have a basis – playing the machines, seeing how they’re operated – to conclude that they are categorized as illegal gambling devices or if they’re categorized within the law. There are ways you can operate these as illegal or not.
“The whole issue of illegal gambling is kind of a moving target. The industry evolves their products based on what has determined to be illegal. Then law enforcement has to respond to whatever the newest iteration is and it takes a period of time to determine if that new game or approach is a legal entertainment device or is it an illegal gambling device.”
Considering this information, the City of Mineral Wells did not knowingly allow businesses to establish themselves within city limits that were involved in illegal activity. Regardless, Mercer’s hard-line stance on illegal gambling in Palo Pinto County is unchanged. If they do the crime, he’ll make certain they do the time.
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