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Polk County Enterprise - Local News
Stories Added - May 2010
Copyright 2010 - Polk County Publishing Company


PCSO arrests 3 in gambling raid Monday

Polk County Enterprise

BY VALERIE REDDELL
Editor
polknews@gmail.com

LIVINGSTON — An undercover law enforcement officer playing video gaming machines at two area convenience stores recently was given cash prizes, which violates Texas law, according to Det. Randy Turner with the Polk County Sheriff’s Office. Turner and Lt. Andy Lowrie said they recently received a Crime Stoppers tip that illegal gambling was going on at the Corner Shell west of Livingston on U.S. 190 at FM 2457. An undercover officer visited the location and the Valero store in Goodrich and played the eight-liner video games. The officer received cash as a prize for winning plays at both sites, Turner said. PCSO investigators then obtained search warrants for the two locations and seized two gaming machines from each site along with more than $2,400 in cash. Three people were arrested during the two searches. Teles Vaz, 28, and Mirand Raul, 37, who both reside on Lake Livingston, were arrested for gambling promotion, a Class A misdemeanor, at the store on U.S. 190 West. Jacob James, 19, was arrested in Goodrich and charged with possession of a gambling device. Turner said as many as four additional arrests are expected in connection with the gambling cases. “Just about any electronic gaming machine is going to wind up being illegal unless it is operated at a loss,” said Polk County District Attorney Lee Hon. Paying cash, in and of itself, makes the machines against the law. However, Texas law does have a “Chucky Cheese” exception, Hon said. Games that are played purely for amusement and offer noncash prizes valued at less than 10 times the amount paid to play or $5 whichever is less are legal, according to Hon. He said his office sees an increase in eight-liner cases crop up every two or three years. Those charged in the cases often quickly point out others who are engaged in the same type of activities. “Some are brazenly paying cash out. It’s a little slot machine operation,” Hon said. “We’re not being the drum to make a big issue out of it,” Hon continued. “It’s against the law and until the law changes, we’re going to enforce it.” Hon added that those who choose to engage in this type of gambling are running the risk of finding themselves facing charges as well. “People can’t keep quiet. Pretty soon the word gets back to law enforcement. They go make a case and here we go.”

 

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