ODESSA, Texas — This week, Odessa City Council voted in favor of drafting an ordinance stating the city will no longer grant business permits to game rooms within the city limits of Odessa.
Should the ordinance be adopted, existing game room permits wouldn’t be extended beyond their renewal date.
"If your permit was issued in, just pick a date, June 1 of 2022, it will renew next June, as I understand it,” said Steve Thompson, Odessa City Councilman for District 2. “And we're not going to reissue the permit and we're not going to permit any new game rooms."
Another mandate states that rooms must operate only during specific hours and not stay open 24/7 like most currently are now.
"Well, we had several game rooms that were operating 24 hours a day, and that was a problem,” said Thompson. “And so, you know, when you start talking about this, we decided to regulate them and I think it's to close at midnight or eleven o’clock Monday through Thursday, and then Friday and Saturday midnight, and back to the shorter schedule the rest of the week."
Council also sees cash prizes being awarded that far exceed the regulation limit. Thompson said $33,000 was recently seized by the Odessa Police Department after a raid found one room was handing out cash instead of prizes allowed by law.
"We believe there is something funny going on,” said Thompson. “When you start confiscating that kind of cash in a location, and you know the law says that you can have one of those machines, you can play for a carnival for a stuffed animal or something less than $5 is what the regulation says. Well, when you find a big stack of cash like that, that was one instance that I'm aware of. We just don't need these in Odessa, Texas.”