The South Texas city of Corpus Christi is known for its dazzling beaches and low cost of living. It’s also home to one of the busiest ports in the nation. On Sept. 14, it became the scene of more raids on illegal gaming operations.
Game rooms, like casinos and sports betting, are all currently illegal under the Texas Constitution. This may change in the coming year as the Texas Legislature meets next spring.
Police raids of adult arcades in South Texas have become commonplace over the last year. At least one South Texas town has legalized them in an effort to control them.
In the latest raid, investigators with the Corpus Christi Police Department’s Narcotics and Vice Investigations Division showed up at two independent gaming rooms close to the center of town to issue simultaneous search warrants. Detectives acted on tips that illegal gambling was occurring at game rooms located on the 4600 block of Kostoryz Road.
Police arrest 3 women on gambling offenses
Investigations began after CCPD posted several reports on unlawful activities taking place at the locations. Undercover officers confirmed gaming machines in use on the premises.
A search warrant executed at 4710 Kostoryz Road brought forth the arrest of three women. Charged with gambling promotion, keeping a gambling place and possession of a gambling device were 30-year-old Yvette Herrera, 57-year-old Concepcion Rosas and 20-year-old Jaime Luqueno.
All three charges are Class A misdemeanors under Texas law and carry up to a year in prison and/or a $4000 fine. Thirty-four patrons of the establishments received warnings for gambling. They were released at the scene. Two others were not so lucky. They were arrested on outstanding felony warrants.
“During the search, detectives seized gambling equipment, cash and other evidence of illegal gambling,” according to the police report. Detectives were able to place money into a gambling machine and win up to 10 times the amount initially wagered. Cash was then paid out to the undercover agents.
Police arrest 2 on second raid
Another raid conducted at the Midway Club Game Room at 4650 Kostoryz Road yielded two more arrests.
Mary Galvin, 71, and Justin Bernal, 31, face charges of gambling promotion, keeping a gambling place and possession of a gambling device.
Narcotics and Vice Investigations Division detectives received support in the operations from officers with the CCPD Operations Division and the Organized Crime Unit, as well as compliance inspectors from Corpus Christi Development Services. Investigators with the State of Texas Comptroller Office, which regulates coin-operated machines, also lent a hand.
Gambling raids a common occurrence in Texas
Police raids on gaming rooms in The Lone Star State are becoming all too familiar in recent years. Just last month, Lufkin Police busted several game rooms operating eight-liners. They ended up seizing eight-liner slot machines from six for-cash gambling locations across the city.
Earlier this year in May, a game room was raided in San Antonio. Police confiscated cash and weapons from a house in a residential neighborhood. More than 100 eight-liner slot machines were seized.
Going back nearly a decade to 2013, a man connected to the “Asian Mob” was given a six-year prison term for operating an illegal gaming room in Amarillo. One year later, a gambling ring consisting of five Amarillo residents who had amassed $300,000 was shut down.
According to a Potter County attorney, raids like these have been happening on a small scale quite frequently since the 1990s. They’ve taken on a larger scope recently, including drug busts, large networks of gambling houses and shootouts. And many of these busts are happening in residential areas.