Fri, Jan 4, 9:52am by Staff Writer
The most populous city in the state of Texas has produced one of the quirkiest gambling stories of 2018 when emergency services were called to a suspected electrical fire at a northern Houston church in December.
When authorities arrived at the scene, there was no fire at all. Instead officers found more than 100 gambling machines located in a room including video slot and video poker machines.
Both are illegal in Texas if they pay money to winners.
Questions remain as to who owns the gambling machines, as the pastor of the World of Life Church shares the building with another tenant.
The church does not own the building and rents it from the property owner via depositing rent in a P.O. Box.
Investigators with the Harris County Sheriff’s Office are investigating the machines.
The machines have been impounded as it is being determined whether or not winners were paid in prize vouchers or in cash.
Legal forms of gambling in Texas include the Texas Lottery, tote betting on horse and greyhound racing, charitable bingo, raffles and three Native Indian American casinos.
Church fire exposes illegal gambling room at Houston church. This is infuriating. https://t.co/3ZF8G2x52J
— Jonathan Howe (@Jonathan_Howe) November 24, 2018
Texas is one of the most restrictive states in the United States in regards to gambling.
Some legislators have pushed for gambling reform in the state, which still prohibits sports betting.
Legislators believe that legalising gambling would bring more tourism to the state.
The state of North Carolina is another that currently forbids online and mobile sports betting.
It’s neighbours in South Carolina and further north in Virginia are already exploring sports betting legislation in 2019.
According to Charles Gillespie from The Charlotte Observer, North Carolina residents are already betting more than $5 billion each year through illegal channels.
This has created lost revenue and fewer jobs for residents of the state according to Mr Gillespie, who is the founder and CEO of Gambling.com.
The company is one of the largest performance marketing companies in the regulated gambling world where users find the best sign-up offers and deals from Europe’s top online gambling destinations.
Mr Gillespie points to the positive outcomes for the state of New York since the legalisation of sports betting in July.
The Meadowlands sports book in New York has brought in more than $10 million in revenue since opening.
Mr Gillespie hopes to work with North Carolina legislators to create a sports betting blueprint that works for the state and others in the United States and legalise sports betting.
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