by ANDY SEVILLA
The JB Adams Sweepstakes Room in downtown Kyle is set to shut its doors at the end of the month.
After initially being greeted with open arms by city officials, Hays County District Attorney Sherri Tibbe says it’s time to pack it up.
The sweepstakes room opened up shop in April, after getting the green light from Kyle Police Chief Jeff Barnett, who at the time said that “by all accounts I have found so far, it appears that sweepstakes are legal in Texas.”
Tibbe, however, was of a different opinion.
“I do not believe this sweepstakes is legal under Texas law and that it constitutes a lottery prohibited by (the Texas Penal Code),” Tibbe said in an April letter addressed to Kyle City Manager Lanny Lambert. “I have learned that the City of Kyle and the Kyle Police Department have communicated to this business owner that this operation is legal. I disagree with that analysis and I encourage you to share this information with the business owner, to give them the opportunity to cease operation.”
Barnett said he gave JB Adams Sweepstakes the go-ahead in April after looking into the state’s lottery statute that the sweepstake room operates under, and initially found no conflict. Once he received Tibbe’s April letter, Barnett said he hand-delivered it to Johnny Adams, the Kyle sweepstakes operator.
Adams and his attorney have met with Tibbe to discuss the legality of operating the sweepstakes in Kyle, Barnett said, but the D.A. has not relented from her position that the business shutter at the end of its lease in September.
John Sanford, the realtor leasing the property, said Adams’ lease was set to expire in September and no extension was negotiated.
Tibbe told the Hays Free Press in June that although her office has not conducted an investigation into JB Adams Sweepstakes; she has made it known to Adams that “those types of operations are illegal.”
Barnett said that since the sweepstakes room opened in Kyle, three other gaming room facilities have called, inquiring how to set up shop in the city. He said he refers them to City Hall to discuss the possibility of opening a business in the appropriate districts and then refers them to the D.A. to inquire about the gaming aspect of their business.
No other sweepstakes rooms have opened in Kyle.
At the sweepstakes rooms, gamers sit at video terminals that mirror slot machines, and click buttons in an effort to win points that can be redeemed for cash. At JB Adams Sweepstakes, people can choose from 24 games at about 36 video terminals to win points and get cash.
Adams said in April that the sweepstakes room’s profits are deposited directly into a bank account owned by the KB Foundation of Texas, a Harlingen-based nonprofit organization that paid for all of the video terminals at JB Adams Sweepstakes, and is covering other expenses, including Adams’ and his three employees’ salaries.
In June, several law enforcement authorities raided four sweepstakes rooms in Lockhart and seized more than $5,200 in cash and 160 computerized gambling devices.
Caldwell County prosecutors said then that they were seeking indictments for the four rooms’ operators on Class A misdemeanor charges for gambling promotion and keeping a gambling place. The 106 patrons caught in the raid were ticketed for gambling.
The KB Foundation of Texas Sweepstakes was one of the raided establishments.
“If (JB Adams Sweepstakes) continues to operate in Hays County, we will conduct an investigation into their activities and, if appropriate, file criminal charges if we find that they are in violation of Texas gambling laws,” Tibbe said in her April letter.
That option, however, could now be moot since Adams is leaving the location.
When approached for comment, Adams said he would not speak to the Hays Free Press.