illegal gambling

Game room operators and eight-liner enthusiasts, beware! Code enforcers from various city departments and entities could be coming to shut down gaming sites not in compliance with rules mandated by Beaumont’s new gaming ordinance.

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More than 60 officers from the Beaumont Police Department, the Port Arthur Police Department, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and other law enforcement agencies were dispatched Wednesday, Oct. 29, to serve search and arrest warrants at five local gaming rooms and the home of the head of those establishments, who is alleged to have committed felony acts in connection to ongoing criminal enterprises.

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Illegal gambling has saturated Southeast Texas in the form of game rooms using casino style coin-operated amusement machines known as “eight-liners.” Local authorities and the State Comptroller’s office say these “arcade games” have a potential legitimate use, but Sgt. Mike Custer of the Beaumont Police Department’s special assignments unit said he has never seen one being used legally. Rather than paying out in prizes valued at under $5, as is allowed by law, gamblers are receiving cash. 

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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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