Police tackles illegal gambling rise in California

Police tackles illegal gambling rise in California

Over the past three years, police forces have raided more than a dozen gambling houses run by gangs in Vietnamese neighbourhoods in Orange County.

US.- Police forces have raided over a dozen of illegal gambling dens run by Vietnamese gangs. Inside these dens, gamblers play video poker, blackjack or they try their hand at a six-seater table featuring a video game that gamblers play for money. The dens were dubbed “slaphouses” as the sound of players pounding their hands on the game controls can be heard outside.

Gambling has long been popular in the Vietnamese community that settled in Orange County after the fall of Saigon in 1975. According to the authorities, Vietnamese coffeehouses featured machines rigged for poker, blackjack and other games where owners could flip a switch and turn the screens back to run-of-the-mill video games when police walked in the door. This coffeehouses were drawing drug dealing, fraud and gang activity along with the gamblers.

Back in 2011, police in the Orange County city of Garden Grove raided more than a dozen coffeehouses, seizing 186 machines and US$150,000 in cash. “They don’t just go there for an hour, they’ll be there for hours on end,” said Westminster police Sgt. Darin Upstill. “Now, who is financing it is another story. That’s what we’re trying to figure out.”