POSTED: Wednesday, February 27, 2013 - 4:32pm
UPDATED: Thursday, February 28, 2013 - 8:54am
RIO GRANDE VALLEY (KVEO NEWS CENTER 23) — Eight liner parlors and gambling hubs are not legal in Texas. But in the Valley, it's well known in several south Texas counties, that the business of gambling is alive and well.
"We have none in Hidalgo county that operate openly with triple neon, triple seven signs, to show that they are in operation," said Sheriff Lupe Trevino.
He said there may be a few places well hidden, but no eight liners operating in the open. Drive east on Expressway 83 and hit Cameron County, it's a whole different situation. Businesses are not just open and running, they are advertising their gambling options.
"Well there are quite a few here, there is no question about it, as far as that goes," said Sheriff Omar Lucio, Cameron County. "The problem is that sometimes these people open it up as a novelty type deal which is really not what it is."
It's not illegal to own an eight liner machine or use it.
"But once a player hits a winning combination, and the operator of the business, or the make-shift casino pays them in U.S.. currency, then that is what makes it a crime," said Sheriff Trevino.
And while bringing these businesses down is an issue. Another huge problem is what to do with the machines once they have been confiscated. Under state law by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality  the machines must be properly correctly disposed of. But doing that is a process.
Lead in the machines and other hazardous materials require specially trained people to dispose of them. But it's a slow process that never seems to end because new machines are continually gets added from new busts.
"In Hidalgo County I will not permit them to operate as long as I am sheriff, because they are a magnet for criminality," said Trevino.
Sheriff Lucio said in Cameron County there are some hold ups.
"Now the other thing that we have been discussing, with the new district attorney, and I have been discussing it. Right now, it is a wait and see attitude," said Lucio. "Because there is some legislature pending right now, they want to make sure, see which way they are going to go ahead and address the particular issue. So for me to say anything at the present time, it would be premature."
Cameron County D.A.. Luis Saenz was unavailable for comment. Saenz did request via email that the interview be scheduled in a couple of weeks. He said there would be more developments at that time.