Raid Breaks Up East Texas Illegal Gambling Operation - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

11/2/06-Van Zandt County

Raid Breaks Up East Texas Illegal Gambling Operation

A raid breaks up an illegal gambling operation in Van Zandt County for the second time this year.   Van Zandt County Sheriff's deputies raided a building off Highway 198, just North of Mabank.  

An undercover investigation by the Van Zandt County Sheriff's Department discovered a medal building behind a wooden privacy fence. At the front gate, sits a window.

"You would have to stop, get out of your vehicle, give your ID to the person there and they would check to see if you were on a list, and if you were on a list you could come in," said Sheriff Pat Burnett. In May, the sheriff's department seized 77 8 Liner machines from the same building. Just a few months later, authorities say the same owner moved 53 machines back in.

"They will go to jail for running an illegal gambling operation,." said Sheriff Burnett. "If we can prove there is three or more people than we can file for organized criminal activity. Also inside Thursday night were 13 customers and two employees. All were written citations for illegal gambling. One customer said it was his first time there.

"I was with some friends," said the customer who would not give his name. "I didn't really know it was illegal, not really. In my opinion you buy lottery tickets. Isn't that gambling." The property owner says he's never been inside the building.

"I didn't know what was going on inside," said Any Collins, Property Owner. "I didn't want to know. They just leased it from me." He knows now, and Van Zandt County Sheriff Pat Burnett says he wants everyone to know he will not allow illegal gambling in his county.

Once they have gone through all the evidence, deputies say they will arrest the owner. The 53 8 Liners seized Thursday night will either be destroyed or sold in a state where the machines can legally be used.

Molly Reuter, reporting. mreuter@kltv.com

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