ODESSA, TX (KWES) - Multiple people were arrested Thursday afternoon on illegal gambling charges following a series of game room raids throughout Odessa, police said.
Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agents and the Odessa Police Department's Narcotics/Vice Unit executed search and arrest warrants at a total of six businesses: Zeus 2 Game Room, Apple Entertainment Game Room, Good Time Game Room, Rainbow Game Room, Century Game Room and Happy Hour Game Room.
Investigators seized motherboards from gambling machines and an undisclosed amount of cash. Officers spent more than four hours collecting at least a dozen bags of evidence from Zeus 2 Game Room at 4300 Andrews Hwy.
Odessa Police spokesman Cpl. Steve LeSueur could not confirm the total number of people detained or arrested. The unidentified suspects all face misdemeanor charges related to illegal gambling, he said.
"This investigation began quite some time ago," LeSueur told NewsWest 9. "We've been conducting these types of investigations for some time now, especially since the city ordinance [providing stricter regulations for local gaming establishments] passed [in February 2013]."
It is illegal for Odessa game rooms to pay out winnings in cash, but police said "many still do it under the table" and often stash large amounts of money on site.
"This attracts all types of crime," LeSueur explained. "A couple years ago, we were constantly responding to robberies, drug activity, all sorts of calls [at game rooms]. As soon as we started being proactive [about cracking down on these establishments], that type of crime has significantly decreased."
Undercover stings and tips from game room patrons both played important roles in Thursday afternoon's raids, according to police.
Anybody with information about illegal activity at Odessa game rooms is urged to contact CrimeStoppers at (432) 333-TIPS.