The business permit might have an annual application fee of $1,000 and require the name of the establishment’s owner or owners, partners, employee records, adherence to safety codes, building codes, prohibition of membership only entry, no blacked out windows and no locked doors.
Any violations of some of the requirements would call for a fine of $10,000 levied against the game room owners.
But the ancillary effect supporting regulations is finding criminal activity going on in the game rooms. These, too, would help to close a game room with an ordinance revocation or suspension clause.
The Harris County ordinance goes into effect March 1.
The regulations were some of those discussed at a workshop of the Refugio County Commissioners Court workshop on Tuesday, Feb. 25.
The commissioners, pored over details of a Harris County ordinance regulating game rooms and decided to form a subcommittee to investigate other county ordinances to see if any of the counties similar in size to Refugio County have passed such an ordinance.
At the workshop were four concerned residents of Bayside, a town that has not passed an ordinance pertaining to game rooms. However, Bayside does have zoning, which narrows sites for such establishments.
The town also has a game room ordinance pending.
Veronica Koenig, Karen Clark, Margaret Babb and Pat Torres, all from Bayside, came to the workshop because they were interested in regulating the game rooms.
County Judge Rene Mascorro said after Harris County’s ordinance goes into effect, regulating the game rooms there will be like “Whack a Mole” because of the manpower needed for enforcement.
He said Refugio County was small enough to control.
A subcommittee made up of County Judge Rene Mascorro, Koenig and Torres, was charged with investigating other game room ordinances and bringing ideas for the March 11 regular meeting of the commissioners court. The commissioners would come up with a list of regulations it wants for Refugio County afterward.
County Attorney Todd Steele said he would then formulate a game room ordinance from specific items the court wants.
“If and when the county comes up with regulations, the municipalities will want interlocal agreements (to enforce the county ordinance),” Steele said.
“We do not have an interlocal agreement with Woodsboro,” said Refugio County Sheriff Robert Bolcik.
Bolcik said he would need one to go into Woodsboro for the purpose of enforcing the town’s ordinance.
Bolcik noted that currently there are two game rooms in the county.
In matters of criminal activity, however, Bolcik said he could intervene.
Commissioner Stanley Tuttle said he wanted to stress safety in proposed regulations.
He noted that while towns like Woodsboro, Bayside and Austwell have building and safety inspectors to require standards, including health provisions, the county does not have inspectors or require building permits.
Commissioners assumed the game room north of Bayside has a septic system and electricity, but whether these utilities are up to standards is questionable.