Upshur County DA Declares 'War' On 8-Liners, Illegal Gambling

It was labeled as an "internet cafe," but today, it was the focus of a raid by local authorities.

Investigators say perhaps hundreds of thousands of dollars were changing hands in the building, part of an illegal video gambling operation.

Only blocks away from law enforcement offices, neighbors were shocked to find out that the cafe had been raided.

"I had no knowledge it was a gambling place because I saw the sign," said Bernard Hart, who lives nearby.

Armed with search warrants, Gilmer Police raided the Gilmer E-Center, confiscating computers and other equipment in what they say was a stand-alone gambling operation.

"This has been an undercover investigation for approximately 2 months," Billy Byrd, the Upshur County District Attorney told KLTV 7 today. "Up to this point, the seizure and documentation of evidence recovered is just now beginning but well over thousands of dollars are going to be involved in this seized today."

Gilmer E-Center was originally billed as an e-cafe, a place where people could supposedly come and log on to the internet, but officials investigating say that's a front, and there were thousands and thousands of dollars coming through it.

"This particular one is a business that was designed solely for gambling," Byrd told us.

Byrd has declared war on illegal gambling, sending out what he called "an open letter to" Upshur County residents giving them until July 15th to shut down 8-liners and other gambling, or face jail time.

"[The] number of gambling machines, computer equipment, an individual would come in play those gambling games machines, they could have winnings and the winnings could be converted into a cash form placed on a debit card in which the player would walk out with a debit card, and that cash could be used in any number of businesses and locations to purchase items."

Authorities say 8-liners are illegal when they offer some sort of cash payout.

"Here's the bottom line, this establishment is 2 blocks away from the justice center. This isn't going to happen in our backdoor and it's not going to happen in our county. Illegal gambling will not be tolerated."

No arrests have been made yet, but the district attorney's office is looking into possibly freezing bank accounts of those involved.

Bob Hallmark, Reporting