SMITH COUNTY, TX (KLTV) - The Smith County Sheriff's Office performed an undercover raid at several game rooms on Thursday.
Authorities said the business owners of the Minute Stop and the Express 64 Beer and Wine store on State Highway 64 West of Tyler were running an illegal gambling operation. The same man and woman own both businesses. The Smith County Sheriff's Office, the District Attorney's Office, and State police were all involved in the investigation.
"We are seizing all of the games here at the Valero and the liquor store [and] we're seizing all of the proceeds from the games," Smith County Sheriff Larry Smith said. "During the process of our undercover officers playing those games funds were co-mingled with the cash register of the establishments; therefore, we are seizing all cash here at both locations."
Smith said this past summer they asked fifty-four illegal game room owners to close down on their own. All of the owners complied but the owners of these businesses opened back up.
"We're going to keep doing cases because we understand and we've seen first-hand what it brings to Smith County," he said. "Go over across [...] the lake on [State Highway} 155 you can't find a parking spot. We make arrests coming from there all the time with methamphetamine, heroin, marijuana, [from] people leaving the games."
Authorities said the co-owners are related in some way. They have arrested the female owner and are still searching for the male suspect. A raid was also conducted at the owners home in the 600 block of West Heritage Drive.
"They can say they don't know it's illegal all they want to but if you put cash in a machine and you play a game of chance and you're in public; and you get cash back not teddy bears, not cigarettes, not cold drinks, not beer [and] you get cash back that's gambling," he said.
About ten gaming machines were confiscated from both businesses.