• Hayward Rigano, attorney for gaming applicant, Moiz Budhwani, withdraws his client's application for a special use permit at the Oct. 27, Planning and Zoning Commission hearing.
    Hayward Rigano, attorney for gaming applicant, Moiz Budhwani, withdraws his client's application for a special use permit at the Oct. 27, Planning and Zoning Commission hearing

Gaming room applicant withdraws application at hearing

An attorney for the applicant who applied to the Planning and Zoning Commission of the City of Atlanta for a special use permit to allow “arcade sweepstakes music download” withdrew his client’s application at the beginning of the public hearing set for today, Oct. 27 at 5:30 at city hall.

The applicant, Moiz Budhwani made application to the commission for the business located at 110 W. Hiram St. in Atlanta.

Gaming rooms have sprouted across East Texas in recent years and have been characterized as “legalized gambling”.

Hayward Rigano, Budhwani’s attorney, told the commission that his clients were withdrawing their application.

“That’s fair enough”, Atlanta city manager David Cockrell said, “We appreciate your applicants taking a look at some of the objections and voluntarily withdrawing their special use permit application.”

Several Atlanta residents attended the hearing to voice their concerns and clapped as the attorney and his clients left city hall.

Budhwani was arrested in 2017 for keeping a gambling place in Titus County.

According to KLTV in April 2017, an undercover deputy was sent into the Star Mart at the intersection of Highway 49 and FM 1735 in Mount Pleasant and found it was operating “8 liners”. They were paying out cash prizes thus making the 8 liner machines illegal gambling devices and illegal to use in the State of Texas. Budhwani, the store’s co-owner was arrested for violation of the Texas Penal Code Section 47.04 Keeping a Gambling Place

According to Atlanta Police Chief Robin Betts, game rooms find loopholes and are good at evading the law.

“There are so many loopholes in it, and they’re popping up everywhere again now so we try to do it by planning and zoning to shut them down because they have to get permits to do it”, Betts said.

The city is currently working with the city’s attorney and the Cass County District Attorney’s office to address an existing gaming room at 802 Loop 59 in Atlanta that, according to Cockrell, did not fully disclose the nature of the business when application was made for permit.

Jason Ross of Gilmer applied for a certificate of occupancy in Dec. 2018 using the business name, Magic Music Download Center, and disclosed “retail” as business type.

Prior to 1993, Section 47.01 of the Texas Penal Code clearly prohibited any game of chance that "for consideration affords the player anything of value." In 1993, the Legislature amended this statute by adding Section 47.01(4)(B). That amendment relaxed the previous standard by making legal:

Any electronic, electromechanical, or mechanical contrivance designed, made, and adapted solely for bona fide amusement purposes if the contrivance rewards the player exclusively with non-cash merchandise prizes, toys, or novelties, or a representation of value redeemable for those items, that have a wholesale value available from a single play of the game or device of not more than 10 times the amount charged to play the game or device once or $5, whichever is less.

Follow the Cass County Citizens Journal-Sun on Facebook to watch the proceedings.



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