California is host to a popular black market for illegal online gambling operators, and there are also instances of illegal physical gambling houses. Police departments across the state are joining forces in a renewed effort to shut down illegal gambling. In their latest set of raids, law enforcement officers have made more than 100 arrests.
Tip-off in Santa Ana
Following a raid on an illegal gambling facility at a cyber café in Santa Ana, 21 people were arrested. The police were tipped off by local residents who had complaints about the activities in the Lucky 999 Cyber Cafe. The raid on the café, located in a strip mall, took place at around 6am.
As well as the arrests, police also confiscated 19 gambling machines. They estimated the machines could generate revenue of more than $20,000 every week in cash.
Raid in Los Angeles
In March, officers from the Los Angeles Police Department took down a significant gambling ring in their jurisdiction. They got a tip-off in relation to a Koreatown property.
On the outside, the facility looked like it was just an empty store. However, there was an illegal gambling operation running inside. It was generally open from noon until late evening.
Before the swoop, undercover police officers entered the property to investigate. This gave them the confirmation they needed to see that cash gambling was taking place. The den also had slot machines and card tables.
During the raid, police confiscated drugs, cash, the gambling machines and firearms. They also made seven arrests. ATF and SWAT teams from the locality took part in the raid.
Arrests in West Orange County
Las Angeles is a major hub for illegal gambling in California due to many areas being so accessible. These illegal houses generate a significant source of revenue for criminal enterprises in the state.
On March 5, law enforcement officers made another raid, this time in West Orange County, on two houses in the Westminster area. Prior to the action, police spent two months investigating the potential occurrence of illegal gambling, and monitoring the two homes.
The raid took place with local SWAT teams, beginning at around midnight. The two homes were about a mile away from one another.
The police commander in Westminster, Cord Vandergrift, said: “It’s activity in and out of the homes; a lot of the times it’s the neighbors that call in and report the activity that leads us to the investigation and starts the investigation for us.”
There were 26 arrests made during this raid.
Gambling in California
California has no legal online gambling, but despite this many operators target residents with their online platforms.
Poker is a very popular activity in the state and there have been persistent calls for the introduction of legal online poker. Since 2008, there have been 16 separate attempts to introduce legal online poker but to no avail.
The tribes in the state are resistant to legalization as they operate dozens of gambling facilities in the state. They do not want legal online poker to cut into their revenues. The tribes hold significant influence in the political space and hold a lot of power over expansionary gambling proposals.
Currently, Californians can gamble in more than 60 tribal gambling locations, as well as more than 100 state-licensed card rooms. Horse racing and the state lottery are also popular forms of gambling.
While there have been calls to legalize sports betting, this does not look like happening any time soon, especially without a constitutional amendment.