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Will smoking ban impact Lyford game rooms?

March 29, 2017 GMT

LYFORD — A new smoking ban might do more than clear the air inside the city’s eight-liner arcades.

Police Chief Andres Maldonado is counting on the ban to help cut down on the number of players at the city’s four game rooms.

“I think it’s going to have some type of impact, but I can’t tell how big,” Maldonado said yesterday. “Or it will attract people who don’t smoke.”

On March 14, city commissioners approved an ordinance banning smoking in public areas.

“Smoking shall be prohibited in all enclosed public places within the city,” the ordinance states.

The smoking ban takes effect 30 days after the ordinance’s approval, City Secretary Lydia Moreno said.

In the same meeting, Mario Ramirez requested a permit to open a new eight-liner arcade.

The game room, set to open at the former Tucker BBQ site off Interstate 69, would become the fifth to operate in town, Moreno said.

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In 2013, commissioners approved an ordinance capping at five the number of eight-liner arcades allowed to operate within the city.

The ordinance prohibits game rooms from operating within 300 feet of schools, churches, day care centers and hospitals.

As in many parts of Willacy County, authorities have raided game rooms only to see them go back into business.

In February 2016, authorities raided the El Toro Game Room, 9540 N. Business 77, and the Sizzling 7s, 7768 S. Business 77.

At the time, authorities said undercover investigations found the game rooms were paying out illegal amounts of cash.

Both game rooms went back to business.

State law prohibits eight-liner machines from awarding players with cash or merchandise valued at more than 10 times the price to play the machine, or $5, whichever is less.

“We’ll investigate any complaints,” Maldonado said. “There has to be evidence to prove they’re doing something illegal.”

fdelvalle@valleystar.com