Game Room Owner's Move to Delay Enforcement Is a Bust

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The Harris County Attorney's Office will move to enforce strict regulations on a Houston game room after a federal judge denied the owner's motion for temporary injunction.

Fabian Elizondo, who owns the Cavalcade Game Room at 1828 Airline, had sued the County, the Harris County District Attorney's Office, Sheriff Adrian Garcia and Mayor Annise Parker earlier this month, claiming that new rules governing game room hours and methods of operation were unconstitutional.

"We are fighting to protect neighborhoods and put illegal operations out of business," County Attorney Vince Ryan stated in a press release. "These game rooms are havens for crime and our office will continue to work to protect communities from establishments that ignore the law."

The new regulations, passed in December 2013, require game room owners to obtain permits, pay a $1,000 annual fee, and cease operations between 10 p.m. and 8 a.m.

"They also cannot require membership for entry, a practice that keeps undercover police officers from entering," according to the release. "New game rooms must also be located at least 1,500 from schools, churches and residential neighborhoods. Violations could result in a civil penalty of up to $10,000 per day."

It might be game over for Cavalcade Game Room.

Elizondo had argued that the county's definitions of "game room," "owners" and "operators" were so vague as to apply to "any minimum-wage waitress serving a single Fresca to a single game room customer," which should have at least earned his lawyer points for creativity.

A motion for preliminary injunction is set for June 23, but the press release states that Ryan's office will begin enforcement against Cavalcade Game Room May 30. (The motion states that the County Attorney's Office and all other defendants will hold off on any enforcement action against the Cavalcade or Elizondo until the judge rules on the preliminary hearing. However, the County Attorney's Office tells us that will not affect general enforcement of the new regulations, which begins May 30.)

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