New Harris County Gambling Task Force Hits Ground Running With Successful Busts

This illegal game room — located at 3715 State Highway 6 South — resulted in an arrest, confiscation of over $16,000 in cash, more than 100 motherboards, drugs, and several weapons. [Harris County Sheriff's Office]
Last week two illegal game rooms in Southwest Houston were shut down. Two people were arrested and authorities seized gambling devices, cash, drugs and weapons. A Harris County task force formed just last month has been busy putting these operations out of business.

A tip led authorities to eight-liner locations in Southwest Harris County. Members of the HCSO's Game Room Task Force took in about $25,000 dollars in cash and 130 motherboards from the two locations.

Sgt. Dan Kributr heads the task force. He says just like sexually oriented businesses, illegal game room operations have been popping up in unincorporated areas after the city of Houston began enforcing stricter gambling regulations.

Cash is cash and the game rooms make tempting robbery targets and game room owners who get busted typically face misdemeanor charges, pay the small fine and are back in business.

"Enforcement from the criminal side has not been successful in closing down these game rooms. The owners, they usually escape criminal prosecution, and are able to get these game rooms back up and running within 24 hours."

Karen Morris with the Harris County DA's office says prosecution of these game rooms are for various offense, ranging from class A misdemeanor to organizing in criminal activity to money laundering, which are felonies.

"Some of our senior citizens go there and spend their last dime, sitting at these eight liner machines and are being ripped off by the people who are operating these game rooms. In addition to that, they're a danger to the public in that people try to rob these establishments, and we've had several aggravated cases and even capital murder cases."

With the growing businesses, officials are working to pass legislation that would limit the number of  game rooms and enforce stricter regulations

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Pat Hernandez

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Pat Hernandez is a general assignments reporter who joined the KUHF news staff in February of 2008...