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Stakes raised for illegal game rooms
by Gary Kent
Dec 02, 2013 | 57 views | 0 0 comments | 15 15 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Three padlocks and a chain keep the front door locked on what used to be the Atlantis Amusement Center at 805 W. Corpus Christi St. District Attorney José Alisida said this week that his office and the Beeville Police Department are asking that the property be confiscated from the owner because he allowed an illegal “eight-liner” gambling operation in the building.
Three padlocks and a chain keep the front door locked on what used to be the Atlantis Amusement Center at 805 W. Corpus Christi St. District Attorney José Alisida said this week that his office and the Beeville Police Department are asking that the property be confiscated from the owner because he allowed an illegal “eight-liner” gambling operation in the building.
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BEEVILLE – District Attorney José Aliseda is warning the owners of property leased by local eight-liner operations that they could lose their investments in the future.

Aliseda said that this week after filing an affidavit in the 343rd District Court requesting the seizure of a building at 805 W. Corpus Christi St.

The building was occupied by the Atlantis Amusement Center until Nov. 1 when Beeville Police Department officers raided the establishment.

The affidavit quoted a BPD undercover officer who made the forfeiture request. The officer said he played one of the eight-liner machines in the building and hit a bonus round twice. He said he took the “credits” he earned playing the machine to the clerk and he was paid $25 for winning 2,500 credits.

“I know from my training and experience that is a violation of Chapter 47 of the Texas State Penal Code to pay money to a person who participated in a game of chance,” the officer said.

The officer said he returned to the same business again on Sept. 18, Sept. 26 and again on Sept. 27 and was paid in cash each time.

The officer took part in the Nov. 1 raid, using a search warrant issued by District Judge Starr Bauer.

“We’re trying to get everything,” Aliseda said. That includes the eight-liner machines, automatic teller machines and cash on hand taken during raids on the gambling operations.

Aliseda said violators of state law are engaging in organized criminal activity. That charge is a felony.

The forfeiture affidavit named a man who allegedly owns several ATM machines that are placed in several alleged gambling locations within the city.

The document shows that Police Chief Joe Treviño previously had warned the owners of property in which alleged gambling operations are located. One of those owners was informed that he had been identified as the registered owner of two buildings that house alleged gambling operations.

During an ongoing investigation, Aliseda said officers obtained statements from some employees of the alleged gambling establishments that indicated that they had been engaging in illegal activities, paying cash to winners who were playing the eight-liner machines.

The undercover officer reported that the owner of one of the alleged gambling operations in Beeville was paying $8,500 a month for the lease of 38 eight-liner machines.

That gave investigators an idea of how much money is being made by those establishments, the prosecutor said.

Aliseda’s affidavit lists a substantial amount of equipment and property that his office wants to confiscate.

That list includes a DVR system, cash in the amount of $1,418.38, ledgers and documents, keys, a safe, televisions, a desk, a money counter, air conditioners, beverage cooler and beverages, rolling chairs, drinks, a refrigerator and a variety of other property, including the eight-liner machines.

The list includes $2,360 in currency taken from an ATM machine seized at the Atlantis and the property itself.

Chief Treviño has reported to the City Council in the past that his department has had confiscated eight-liner machines auctioned off outside of Texas, and the BPD has placed the money in a special account to purchase new equipment for the department.

“This will involve the property owners who rent to these operators,” Aliseda said of his future plans at seizing items taken from eight-liner operations in town. “They could be criminally liable. Property owners can’t turn a blind eye to this.”

Aliseda said gambling is addictive, and many customers of the establishments cannot afford to be gambling away their money.

The district attorney said the alleged gambling operations also can be dangerous places to be. At least two establishments in Beeville have been hit by armed robbers in recent years.

“They’re criminal nuisances,” Aliseda said. The prosecutor said his office is considering paying a reward to customers of the establishments who provide proof that the operators are paying cash to winners.

Gary Kent is a reporter at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 358-2550, ext. 120, or at reporter@mySouTex.com.
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