A woman who calls herself the “LeBron James of Poker” was arrested for running an illegal gambling club in Manhattan’s West Village.
The woman, who was charged with six counts of promoting gambling, was allegedly running a poker ring that also contained illegal alcohol and drugs.
Gambling Rings in Manhattan
Gambling rings are nothing new in Manhattan. Several gaming rings have been stopped in the last five years. In one memorable case, a floating poker game linked to the Russian mob was stopped in 2013 and resulted in more than 30 arrests and deportations. This poker game had high limits in the hundreds of thousands and celebrities as clients. Earlier this summer, a different bust in Manhattan netted more than two dozen arrests and a drug seizure. There are no legal casinos or poker gaming in New York City, although there are casinos close to the city.
The LeBron James of Poker
Geeta Singh, whose nickname is “Mira,” the self-titled Mr. James, was heard on wiretaps talking about her prowess in poker, which she promoted and operated in a mall apartment on the Avenue of the Americas. Singh, who is a U.S. citizen, used the app, Meetup, to find clients. She sent each person a text message that he or she needed to enter the apartment. Clients paid a minimum of $200 to enter the game. VIPs could begin to play on a different floor of the apartment for $500. Drugs and paraphernalia were found in another apartment. The understanding of the players was that there was a two-hour time constraint. If the players chose to leave before the two-hour time limit was up, they forfeited all their winnings.
Singh, who worked the entire gaming operation from her house, was employed at the gaming house for about six months. Her salary was estimated to be in the quarter-million dollar range. However, that is small pickings compared with what the casino raked in during the same time, which is estimated to be in the range of millions of dollars. Singh had nearly 15 years of experience with gaming, but no other charges have been brought against her in the United States.
The apartment where the games were held did not look entertaining from the street, and the furnishings inside were nondescript. However, the club attracted working professionals from the area. The people who were on tape discussed the importance of renovating the apartment. They wanted to upgrade it and make it into something that would take the gaming tables to the next level.
In addition to the gambling business, the group also had stashes of cocaine and heroin in other nearby houses. The probe into the gaming house was started about eight months ago with wiretaps and observational data. The investigation started as a usual drug investigation. It was built through tips from informants and led to a sting in which an NYPD undercover officer made a number of buys, authorities said.
Singh was in Atlanta when the arrest warrant was signed, but she waived extradition and was flown to New York to stand trial.
If she is charged and convicted, Singh could get as much as three years in prison for each count, as well as face fines of up to a $1 million per count.
It remains to be seen if Singh can talk her way out of the gambling charges. She appears to have no criminal record. However, that only means that she was charged with a crime, but not convicted. In addition, since she is from India, it is also possible she faced charges there.
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