Some Upshur County residents are up in arms over a new gameroom that a KLTV 7 investigation exposes as possibly illegal.
The Touch of Luck gameroom is on Highway 259 in Diana, just across the street from the First Baptist Church. It's one of at least two operating in Upshur County and residents want to know why these places aren't being shut down.
Residence say the gameroom opened about three weeks ago. Inside, there are about 20 machines, and an employee says winners walk away with gift cards from companies like Sam's and Mastercard. It's something residents like Steve Emmel say is unacceptable for their small community.
"I feel that if gamblings not legal in the state of texas, then they shouldn't be here. They need to go to Louisiana where gambling's legal," says Emmel.
Marvin Walton, a member at First Baptist Church says, "If they're going to bend to allow the gambling, maybe liquor's next. Upshur County needs to wake up."
There are some loopholes in the law which allow some of the gamerooms to operate legally. Machine owners can give away non-cash prizes that are of no greater value than ten times the amount of the bet, or $5; whatever is less.
In 2003, the Texas Supreme Court ruled that gift certificates like Touch of Luck is giving away do not fall into those exclusions. The court ruled those were the same as cash and therefore, illegal in Texas.
One of the men we spoke to today says he has called Upshur County authorities to find why this establishment is being allowed to operate, and he says they blew him off. KLTV left messages for the sheriff and the district attorney and spent the majority of the afternoon at the justice center waiting on them to comment on the issue. They did not talk to us. They would not address the concerns of the citizens.