Corpus Christi law enforcement is cracking down on illegal gambling. Last week, Corpus Christi police arrested two men in an illegal gambling operation.
Patrons of legal bingo halls in the state are urging law enforcement to continue to shut down illegal operations. An assistant district attorney also says the illegal gambling halls are breeding grounds for other crimes.
The Corpus Christi Police Department’s Narcotics and Vice Investigations Division arrested two men for running an illegal gambling operation. David Rivers, 44, and Ray Firova, 39, were arrested July 12, CCPD Senior Officer Gena Pena wrote in a release.
“The Corpus Christi Police Department continues to collaborate with our local state and federal partners to investigate and combat illegal gambling. Investigators will continue to enforce all Texas gambling laws, which will help accomplish our mission to reduce crime, reduce the fear of crime and to improve the quality of life in our community.”
Men charged with three crimes
Rivers and Firova are looking at a maximum penalty of one year in jail and/or up to a $4,000 fine. They face charges for three crimes.
- Keeping a gambling place: Prohibits people from running a gambling place in any location, or allowing someone to run a gambling place on your property with your knowledge.
- Possession of gambling device: Bans people from owning, manufacturing, transferring or possessing a gambling device they know is designed for gambling.
- Gambling promotion: Outlaws intentionally or knowingly generating revenue through a gambling place, bookmaking or also other forms of gambling-based gain.
In theory, the two defendants could dodge the charges. They would have to prove that the gambling occurred in a private place, nobody gained anything but winnings, and the odds were the same for all people who gambled.
Asst. DA: Illegal gambling halls ridden with crime
Back in March, Corpus Christi police announced a bust of another gambling facility in the Bay Area neighborhood.
First Assistant District Attorney Angelica Hernandez told local news station KIII that busting game room operators can help reduce other crimes besides gambling.
“They’re a breeding ground for a lot of other criminal activity. You’ve got money laundering, you’ve got drug use, you’ve got prostitution, you’ve got trafficking. There’s a lot of other businesses that go hand in hand and other types of criminal activity that go hand in hand with these types of facilities.”
Bingo backers fed up with illegal gaming halls
In April, Copous Christi residents attended a Nueces County Commission meeting to voice concerns about the lack of gaming room oversight. One woman told commissioners that legal bingo halls can’t compete with illegal gambling operations.
“We’re trying to compete with the game rooms who have absolutely zero regulation, rules, or have to abide by anything. They can be open any hours of the day. Nobody has to even know who owns them, who operates them.”
Eddie Heinmeier, a representative from Texas Charity Advocates, pointed out another issue to KIII.
“They’re not paying taxes. The city is not getting tax money off them. The county is not getting tax money. The state is not, or the federal government. Bingo halls pay taxes and, in fact, the state makes more off the bingo halls than the charities do.”