The temporary reprieve that Harris County ganerooms got from the courts has been lifted.
Houston and Harris County moved one step closer Friday in their quest to crack down on illegal game rooms after a judge threw out a restraining order which had blocked new regulations due to come into effect this month.
Game room owner Altaf Makanojiya, 31, had sought the restraining order and a permanent injunction against the new rules which his lawyers say are a “transparent attempt to outlaw game rooms.”
According to City Attorney, David Feldman, the judge flatly denied the injunction, just one week after the restraining order halting the new laws had been put in place.
Attorneys for the county confirm the ruling saying they believe the judge agreed with their claim that Makanojiya had no legal basis for his suit because his primary business is supplying poker machines, not operating game rooms.
First Assistant County Attorney Robert Soard said his team are awaiting final clarification early next week but stated that if they are correct, the suit against them will now be dismissed entirely.
Even without a full dismissal, this means the new regulations go into immediate effect in Harris County with City officials looking to adopt them all across Houston as soon as paperwork can be finalzed.
“County to approve interlocal (agreement) in short order so enforcement within City can then begin,” Feldman said via text message.
See here for the background. Harris County was given extra powers by the Legislature last year to regulate game rooms, and Houston contracted with them do enforce the new regulations rather than amend their own ordinances. It will be interesting to see how well this experiment works.