Another delay in Willacy 8 liner case

RAYMONDVILLE — The waiting game goes on.

Yesterday, a judge set a trial date in the case of two game rooms requesting to reopen months after a tough, new Willacy County ordinance led them to shut down.

Visiting state District Judge J. Bonner Dorsey set an Oct. 23 trial in the case of the Lucky A’s Game Room and the Lone Star Game Room.

Last month, Dorsey denied the game rooms’ requests for temporary injunctions that would have allowed them to reopen.

Attorney Daniel Sanchez, who could not attend a pre-trial hearing yesterday, has claimed his clients are the victims of preferential treatment.

In August, Sanchez noted, state District Judge Migdalia Lopez granted the Silver Star Game Room, Silver Express Game Room, La Victoria Game Room and the Silver Outpost their requests for temporary restraining orders, allowing them to reopen until their cases go to trial.

In all six cases, the game rooms claim the county’s new ordinance, which gave them the opportunity to re-apply for permits, unfairly denied their requests to reopen.

Following the ordinance, the owners of the Lucky A’s and Lone Star game rooms filed amended applications, providing county authorities with updated information correcting any problems with their applications, Sanchez said during last month’s hearing

However, he said, the county also denied the amended applications.

Now, the Lucky A’s and Lone Star game rooms each seek $100,000 in damages, court costs and attorney fees.

Yesterday, Sheriff Larry Spence, whose department helped oversee the process to reapply, expressed his frustration after weeks of courtroom delays.

“The delay — I don’t feel comfortable about it,” Spence said. “Some of the accusations made against us — that bothers me as well.”

For years, Spence helped lead a push for a tough ordinance to regulate game rooms in the county’s vast unincorporated areas.

Then about two years ago, as many as 10 game rooms opened in Sebastian, sharing many of the narrow streets with homes and schools.

After its approval in February, the ordinance led Sebastian’s game rooms to shut down.

“We felt there was a need for an ordinance since (game rooms) were moving into the county and there was no control,” Spence said. “We finally got it. It’s a good one. We think we did a good job on it — and here we are still fighting it.”

The Lucky A’s and Lone Star are the fifth and sixth game rooms to sue the county as a result of the new ordinance.

Meanwhile, the Silver Star Game Room, Silver Express Game Room, La Victoria Game Room and the Silver Outpost remain open for business.

In all four cases, the game rooms claim the county ordinance denied their due process rights when their re-applications were rejected.

Last month, attorney Ricardo Morado, representing the county, requested the four cases be moved to federal court because due process arguments constitute federal claims.

The four game rooms are demanding the county pay damages of $50,000 to $2 million.

A federal court hearing for those cases has been set for Dec. 27.