Three Arrested for Operating Illegal Poker Game in South Carolina

  • Up to 20 people would go to the office for the poker game
  • Police seized more than $15,000 in cash during the raid
  • One of the organizers claims it was just a friendly game
Friends playing poker
Police in a small South Carolina community received a tip from locals about an illegal poker game that was regularly taking place in an office suite. [Image:]

Much ado about…?

Police in Irmo, South Carolina have arrested three people for operating an illegal poker game. The authorities got a tip from local residents about regular activity at an office suite beside a children’s daycare. Up to 20 people would frequently visit the premises to play poker, with the organizers reportedly taking a cut of the action.

seven people received charges for gambling illegally at the premises

South Carolina has strict gambling laws which prohibit these types of games. Police raided the premises on April 10 and arrested three men for running the illegal gaming tables. Another seven people received charges for gambling illegally at the premises.

The men were subsequently released and will have to appear in court in June. The organizers face fines of as much as $1,087.50 each and the players could have to pay a $257.50 penalty.

Zero tolerance

During the course of the raid, police officers seized more than $15,000 in cash. Richland County Sheriff’s Department and the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division helped with the investigation.

Irmo is a relatively small suburban town in Richland and Lexington counties just northwest of the state’s capital city Columbia.

Irmo Police Chief Bobby Dale said that illegal gambling won’t be tolerated in the town, especially as similar activities in the past led to lives being lost “because of the financial greed of some involved.”

Fighting back

Gary Watts, a former Richland County coroner, was one of the men who police brought into custody. Upon his release, he spoke to local media to say that the whole incident was “blown out of proportion.”

just a bunch of guys getting together to play cards”

He claims that it was not some sophisticated underground gambling den with slot machines and other forms of nefarious activity. Instead, he explained that it was “just a bunch of guys getting together to play cards, have a meal, have a few drinks, watch TV, share some laughs.”

Watts said that they have played in this manner for a long time and that this type of game is a common occurrence in every community across the state. Explaining the organizers taking a cut of the game, Watts said that the money went toward expenses like food.

In response, Chief Dale said that the extensive investigation took months to complete and the conclusion was that this was an organized business and not just a friendly game of poker.

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