Acting on a tip, the Los Angeles Police Department busted an illegal gambling business housed in Koreatown. The raid netted money, criminals, guns, drugs, and illegal gambling machines. It’s an example of transnational gambling in the United States.
What is Koreatown?
Koreatown is a neighborhood in Los Angeles. The neighborhood, shaped like a rectangle, covers 150 blocks in Central Los Angeles. Originally, Koreatown was a haven for Asian immigrants. Now, however, it is evenly split between Latinos and Asians. Koreans began to emigrate to the United States in the 1890s. Many Koreans also to the United States in the years during and after World War II. The area has seen periods of prosperity followed by economic decline. Koreatown was also set ablaze during the Los Angeles Riots of 1992. Today, Koreatown has shops, restaurants, and gathering places, as well as small houses and apartments. The area is known for its diversity.
Illegal Gambling in Koreatown
In the past, Asian gangs ran the gambling outlets in Koreatown. Those gangs were primarily from China. However, as the prosperity of the area changed, the Latino gangs took over the gambling business. An example of one of these gangs is MS-13. A Salvadoran gang, MS-13 has been active in the area since the 1970s. It is known to be an especially violent gang.
Koreatown has many types of gambling. Many Asians enjoy playing and betting on games. Sic bo, which is a Korean game of chance using dominoes, is especially popular. In Sic bo, people bet on the outcome of the game. People in Koreatown also love to play poker, whether it is on a video poker machine or in person. Poker war is a very popular form of poker.
The Los Angeles Police Department went to what was supposed to be an empty storefront in Koreatown. When police officers broke in the front door, they found seven people. The men running the business were Latino, and the clientele was both Asian and Latino. The ATF joined the LAPD in the raid. Gaming managers operated the gambling business. Inside the business, the authorities found slot machines and card tables where people could play poker. In general, people could come into the business from midday through late into the evening. The agencies seized a large amount of cash from the business. However, the police declined to say how much.
The police have been waging a war with Mara Salvatrucha or MS-13. MS-13 is one of the largest Latino gangs in California. The low rents in Koreatown mean many people can live in the area cheaply. Police officers received tips about the business from customers. They told them the business had a special license. The license meant the “businessmen” had the right to run the gambling operation. However, the business had no license. In fact, no one was renting the building. When the police went undercover, they found the illegal gambling business was booming. People would pay the manager $20 for every $25 they wanted to gamble with. The business would pay winners in cash. Most people paid between $40 and $150 per gambling trip. People were only let into the business via word of mouth. The business did not advertise.
There are legal gambling houses all over the state. More than 150 casinos and other businesses are operating in California. However, there are less than a dozen in Los Angeles. Because many people in L.A. don’t drive, neighborhood illegal casinos do very well. People enjoy the convenience. The police department will charge the people with either misdemeanors or felonies, depending on their roles in the business.
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