SEBASTIAN — Eight-liner arcades are turning parts of Willacy County into a South Texas casino mecca.
Residents like Joe Salinas say they have never seen so many game rooms operating in this rural community.
Salinas said eight game rooms are now open in this unincorporated area of about 1,900 residents.
“We’ve never seen it this high and it’s growing fast,” Salinas, a radio technical director, said. “This is a family area, with kids walking down the streets and traffic is real bad. This small, quiet residential areas are a thing of the past because of the eight-liners. We want them closed down.”
After a tough Raymondville ordinance pushed eight-liner arcades out of town, more are opening in unincorporated areas such as Sebastian, where Willacy County does not have an ordinance to regulate game rooms.
“It’s never been a problem the size it is right now,” Sheriff Larry Spence said.
Spence is calling on Willacy County commissioners to approve an ordinance regulating eight-liner arcades.
“They need some regulation,” Spence said. “The county has nothing so everyone is going into the county to open these things.”
Willacy County Judge Aurelio did not respond to messages requesting comment.
In nearby Lyford, a fifth game room is preparing to open in the town whose ordinance limits the number of eight-liners to five.
“It concerns me that we have that many,” Police Chief Andres Maldonado said.
For more on this story read Thursday’s Valley Morning Star.