A store clerk has been on the run for over a month in connection with a large gambling raid. This raid is part of a large emphasis on raids in Houston to crack down on rampant gambling. Gambling is illegal in Texas.
Texas is known for hot guns and high rollers. Gunslingers and poker players are risky propositions as symbols of the Old West. However, gambling has been illegal in Texas since before Prohibition. In the nineteenth century, Texas was known as a gambling hub, where poker and money exchanged hands quite frequently. However, Texas struggled with itself for its identity concerning gambling.
Currently, the only form of gambling that is legal in Texas is the lottery. The Texas Lottery, which runs multi-state and state lotteries, generates millions of dollars in funding each year. While some Texans have longed for casinos since the 1990s, the state has historically had strong opposition to casino gaming. Horse racing, once popular, has also faced an uncertain future, due to declining popularity.
Problems with Gambling
Although Texas has historically been opposed to gambling, that has not stopped people from trying to beat the law enforcement system. Gambling has been especially challenging to get rid of in large cities, such as Dallas and Houston. Houston presents its own problems. It is a large, sprawling city with multiple jurisdictions, and different police departments. Police officers have found it difficult to enforce gambling regulations in Houston, which is why they have had several crackdowns. This year Houston police found gaming machines in a Zumba studio, a Chinese restaurant, a strip club, and a convenience store.
The Recent Raid
Houston police conducted a month-long undercover operation. In a convenience store, the owner of the store had over 100 machines stored in a back room. Specific customers could come in and gamble. The undercover operation began when a deputy was allowed to go into the back room and gamble. He won $60 from the gambling machine, which was used as evidence to conduct a larger undercover operation. The police department had already received several complaints from the public. The complaints were about people going in and out of the convenience store even when it was closed.
The raid netted several arrests, $14,000 in cash and over 100 machines. In addition to the cash and gambling machines, police officers also found an ATM. They seized it because it was located in the same room as the gambling machines.
In Texas, the possession of gambling machines is not a felony. However, operating gambling machines to get money is a felony because it is considered a criminal enterprise. Criminal enterprises have been considered felony charges since Prohibition. Organized crime used to run gambling rackets as well as illegal liquor rackets.
Texas has very little chance of passing changes to their gambling laws. Texas is at a crossroads. First, the state has increasingly become more broad-based belief-wise and less conservative. Second, the entrance of sports gaming into the national arena due to the Supreme Court’s decision has made gambling relevant. The Supreme Court ruled that states will decide whether to make gambling legal or illegal. Many Texans want the option of having the choice to gamble whether it is in a casino or online. However, as long as gambling is illegal, raids on gaming machines are likely to continue.
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