RUSK COUNTY, Texas (KETK) — Gaming machines: harmless in theory but illegal under certain conditions. 

“It’s not illegal to possess them,” said Rusk County Sheriff Johnwayne Valdez. “You can have one in your house any time you want to but you’re just playing a game. Where it becomes an issue is are you charging money to do it. Are you allowing them to gamble.” 

Three illegal game rooms in Rusk County are now closed because of gaming machines used for gambling. For the game room to operate legally, they wouldn’t be able to profit at all. Sheriff Valdez explains the law in more detail. 

“The house can’t take a cut. If you and I are gambling in someone else’s home and we’re playing poker, if you have a hundred dollars in the pot and the house takes 10 bucks of it, that’s illegal,” said Valdez. 

Some of the machines in these casinos were older and bulkier from the 1980s and 90’s, while others were more high tech and easier to manipulate in the house’s favor.  

“They are taking a cut of this money, otherwise this business would not be open because they won’t make any money. They’re not doing this out of the kindness of their heart,” said Valdez. 

Many of these game rooms would reportedly mask their proceeds as donations and even have fake charities listed. 

“Call it what you want. If you’re paying out cash, it’s illegal,” added Valdez. 

Sheriff Valdez said oftentimes there is more than just gambling going on at these facilities. 

“There are several instances where dope is also being sold or used at these casinos but the amount of crimes taking place other than the gambling is what really makes us take a little bit harder look at these,” explained Valdez. 

Sheriff Valdez said two people were arrested but have since bonded out. The Rusk County Sheriff’s office is in the process of shutting down a fourth location, but is still investigating at this time.