gambling

Police, code enforcement, legal counsel, municipal court personnel, and staffers from multiple city of Beaumont departments affected by a steady swell of game rooms popping up with and without city permitting are unifying their individual experiences in the hopes of tackling the illegal activity that comes with “game room” business operation.

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Vice officers serve a warrant at Fresh Amusement on July 20.

Some may see it as a victimless crime. Others, like Beaumont Police Department’s Sgt. Bobby Anderson, know better. He’s seen the victims.

Over the last 18 months or so, Anderson has tracked the calls for service to game rooms and gaming sites throughout Beaumont. Robberies, theft, arson, assault … the list goes on and on, for roughly 500 pages of call reports alone.

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Nikki Jones

It has been months since CASA of the Sabine Neches Region discovered more than $40,000 missing from its coffers, and no charges have yet been filed against Nikki Jones, the former executive director suspected of the theft by peers within the organization. But according to police, that could change very soon.

“We should be ready to present a case to the district attorney in the next week or two,” Orange Police Department Capt. Robert Enmon told The Examiner on July 21.

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Texans no longer have to drive across the Louisiana border to get their gambling fix. Now, in the heart of The Big Thicket, just 17 miles east of Livingston, is a 15,000-square-foot gaming facility operated by Naskila Entertainment on the Alabama Coushatta Indian Reservation. A soft opening was held Tuesday, May 17, and a grand opening is set for Thursday, June 2.

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Van’s Grocery on Avenue A (top), Shanghai Amusement and Lala Gift Shop

As five Beaumont businesses prepare to answer charges related to illegal gambling following an October 2014 raid, other local proprietors charged with violating a Beaumont ordinance are saying they had no idea the ordinance applied to them or, in some cases according to the city attorney’s office, that such an ordinance even existed at all. 

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Last week, The Examiner revealed the problem of numerous illegal gambling dens spreading throughout the area and their negative impact on the community, particularly gambling addicts and the area’s most vulnerable residents. But the poor and the elderly are not the only ones affected by the area’s saturation of game rooms, which are filled with machines known collectively as eight-liners. Legitimate owners of legal businesses also suffer.

Not-so-booming business

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Several months of investigation by Examiner staffers have revealed a saturation of illegal casino-style gambling outlets in Southeast Texas, with some game room owners grossing $3 million or more in unreported earnings a month. Dozens of game rooms have been identified all over the Golden Triangle, raking in thousands of dollars a day in proceeds for the business owners, and paying out cash under the table to patrons. Still, local law enforcement officers say they are limited in what they can do to stop it. 

The problem

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