Bridge City passes game room ordinance – “we can control what goes on in our city”

Published 12:28 am Wednesday, April 27, 2022

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BRIDGE CITY — Bridge City councilmembers voted on game room ordinances in a regular meeting this month. The city did not previously have any ordinances on the subject.

Mayor David Rutledge and City Manager Brent Walker said the council wanted to have ordinances in place regardless of the outcome of the ongoing court battle over eight-liner machines.

“Orange County already put their ordinance in place,” Walker said. “We just used that and put a $1,000 application fee and charged $1,000 per machine. We modeled similar to what other communities around us used. We used the ordinance that says it can’t be within 1,000 ft of a school, church and planned residential areas.”

Walker previously told Orange Newsmedia that the discussion around the ordinances came from an inquiry from someone wanting to put one in the city limits. Walker said he has since learned that the potential game room owner did not realize the preferred location was just outside of the city limits and belonged to Orange County.

Walker added he did receive one phone call from someone out of Houston inquiring about a potential game room, but said nothing is imminent.

Last month, the Second Court of Appeals in Texas ruled the eight-liners are unconstitutional lotteries. The game room operators will likely appeal the ruling, pushing this already 6-year-old case further down the road.

The Texas Supreme Court could uphold the ruling and put the use of the machines to a vote to see if Texans want them to amend the state’s constitution to allow eight-liner machines.

Rutledge said he and the council wanted to be proactive.

“I think it was important to have it that way we can control what goes on in our city,” he said. “If at some later date, the supreme court knocks down these ordinances, then no harm, no foul. We just want to do the best we can for our citizens.”

Walker said the city council met a few times to discuss the ordinance and make sure the council liked the final product.

Rutledge said he was pleased with the final set of ordinances.

“I think it is a very detailed ordinance,” he said. “I think Orange County copied it from Jefferson County and (D.A.) Bob Wortham. It passed all of the smell tests for constitutionality and wording. We felt it was pretty much bulletproof. We just tailored it for our city.”

— By Chris Moore