TEXARKANA POLICE

DAPARTMENT

TEXARKANA, ARKANSAS
new badge Officer Kristi Mitchell
Public Information Officer

903-798-3187 (office)
903-824-4199 (cell) 903-798-3023 (fax)

PRESS RELEASE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
 
 
03-19-2011  
     

Re: Operation “Cash Out”

 

Several months ago, the Texarkana, Arkansas Police Department initiated undercover investigations due to the operation of illegal gambling establishments, whereby the proprietors were paying winnings in cash, which is a violation of Arkansas State Laws. The Bi-State Narcotics Task Force performed undercover covert operations by playing the machines and were paid their winnings in cash by the establishments.

Several of these establishments, which opened under the guise of the “Chuck-E-Cheese Law”, which permits various machines to operate under several restrictions, have obviously violated the provisions of the law, which has resulted in today’s operation. Attached, you will find Arkansas Attorney General Opinion 2007-247 which addresses these businesses. Also attached are the three primary Arkansas State Statutes that focus on this issue.

In mid February, undercover officers began playing games at establishments in Texarkana, Arkansas and Miller County. At this time, our investigation reflects that a minimum of six (6) establishments have been operating in direct violation of the following State Statutes:

5-66-103. Gambling Houses.

(a)  A person commits the offense of keeping a gambling house if the person:

   (1)  Keeps, conducts, or operates, or who is interested directly or indirectly in keeping, conducting, or operating any gambling house or place where gambling is carried on;

   (2)  Sets up, keeps, or exhibits or causes to be set up, kept, or exhibited or assists in setting up, keeping, or exhibiting any gambling device; or

   (3)  Is interested directly or indirectly in running any gambling house or in setting up and exhibiting any gambling device, either by furnishing money or another article, for the purpose of carrying on any gambling house.

(b)  Keeping a gambling house is a Class D felony.

5-66-104. Gaming Devices Prohibition.

(a)  It is unlawful for a person to set up, keep, or exhibit any gaming table or gambling device, commonly called A. B. C., E. O., roulette, or rouge et noir, any faro bank, or any other gaming table or gambling device, or bank of the like or similar kind, or of any other description although not named in this section, regardless of the name or denomination, either:

   (1)  Adapted, devised, or designed for the purpose of playing any game of chance; or

   (2)  At which any money or property may be won or lost.

(b)  Upon conviction, a person who violates this section is guilty of an unclassified misdemeanor and shall be fined in any sum not less than one hundred dollars ($100) and may be imprisoned any length of time not less than thirty (30) days nor more than one (1) year.

5-66-105. Gaming Devices Financial Interest.

(a)  It is unlawful for any person in any way, either directly or indirectly, to be:

(1)  Interested or concerned in any gaming prohibited by 5-66-104, either by furnishing money or another article for the purpose of carrying on gaming; or

(2)  Interested in the loss or gain of gaming prohibited by 5-66-104.

(b)  Upon conviction, a person who violates this section is guilty of an unclassified misdemeanor and shall be fined in any sum not less than one hundred dollars ($100) and may be imprisoned any length of time not less than thirty (30) days nor more than one (1) year.

During the course of the investigation, the Undercover Officers were paid cash money for winning points on the 8-Liner machines on a minimum of two (2) different occasions. The investigations into other violations, such as violations of City Ordinances; is continuing. The simultaneous execution of the six search warrants today does not end the investigations. We will continue to review the business and financial records of those investors and parties involved in the operation of the establishments. Criminal charges are pending against all parties involved.

Also included for your review is Arkansas Statute 5-66-108 which specifically addresses actions to be taken in these cases:

5-66-108. Gaming devices Search warrants.

(a)  It is made and declared to be the duty and required of the judges of the circuit courts, the presiding judges of the county courts, and also of the justices of the peace, on information given or on their own knowledge, or when they have reasonable ground to suspect, that they issue their warrant to the sheriff, coroner, or constable as the case may be most convenient, directing in the warrant a search for gaming tables, or devices mentioned or referred to in 5-66-104, and, directing that on finding any, the devices shall be publicly burned by the officer executing the warrant.

(b)  The officer executing a warrant, and burning, by virtue of the warrant, any gaming device, as required in subsection (a) of this section, on making his return to the judge or justice who issued the warrant, and getting the statement of the judge or justice that the warrant had been returned to the judge or justice duly executed by the burning of the gaming device, stating or describing the gaming device burnt, endorsed on the warrant, the officer is entitled to his or her fees for the service, to be paid by the person keeping the gambling table.

Also included for your review is the below listed Arkansas State Statute 5-66-101 which reflects the “intent” of the law.

5-66-101. Construction of statutes.

(a)  In their construction of the statutes prohibiting gaming, the judges of the several courts in this state shall construe the statutes liberally, with a view of preventing persons from evading the penalty of the law by changing of the name or the invention of new names or devices that now are, or may hereafter be, brought into practice, in any and in all kinds of gaming, and all general terms of descriptions shall be so construed as to have effect, and include all such games and devices as are not specially named.

(b)  In all cases in which construction is necessary, the construction shall be in favor of the prohibition and against the offender.

5-66-102. Duty of officer.

When it comes to the knowledge of any sheriff, coroner, or constable, or any of their deputies, that any person is guilty of any offense created or prohibited by this section and 5-66-101, 5-66-104  5-66-107, and 5-66-109, it is their duty to give notice of the offense to any judge or justice of the peace for the county who shall:

   (1)  Issue his or her warrant and cause the offender to be brought before him or her;

   (2)  Examine the matter in a summary manner; and

   (3)  Discharge, bail, or commit the offender, as the circumstances and the right of the case may require.

Following a pre-raid briefing at 6:00pm, over 40 members of the Texarkana, Arkansas Police Department and members of the Bi-State Narcotics Task Force which is comprised of police officers from Texarkana, Arkansas / Texarkana, Texas / Miller County, Arkansas Sheriff’s Department, began simultaneously executing six Search Warrants at the following locations:

FUN TIMES: E. 9TH & COUNTY
B&B GIFTS: 2525 EAST STREET
FAT TUESDAYS: E. 35TH & JEFFERSON
P.J.’S GIFTS: 2609 E. 9TH ST
MAX’S GAMES: N. STATE LINE AVE.
(NO NAME): 501 E. 9TH STREET

These types of investigations are labor intensive, costly, and require many hours of working the establishments in the City for cash pay outs.

I want the citizens of Texarkana, Arkansas to know that I have welcomed your complaints and agree that these kinds of businesses are of no benefit to our City, but that I must and will follow the letter of the law, and cannot close the establishments unless they violate the law and pay in cash.

If citizens want 8 liner gaming establishments closed permanently, they must lobby their state legislators to change the state law to prohibit any form of 8 liner operations in the State of Arkansas.

We have taken the first step by again closing those establishments that operate illegally. I will be conferring with the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office and the Circuit Judges in an effort to permanently close these illegal operations. The Search Warrants authorized the seizure of Gaming Machines, Currency, Business and Financial Records, Surveillance Video, Training Materials, and Employee Personnel Files in addition to other items. The businesses were sealed pursuant to a Court Order, and following the completion of the investigation, the matter will be referred to the Office of the Prosecuting Attorney.

Thank you and you can visit the Texarkana Arkansas Police Department online at http://www.txkusa.org/arkpolice.
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Contact Information
Officer Kristi Mitchell
Public Information Officer
903-798-3187 (office) 903-824-4199 (cell)
903-798-3023 (fax) 
kmitchell@txkusa.org

 

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