Illegal Gambling Sting Hits Ector County

By Sarah Snyder
NewsWest 9

The number of people arrested in an illegal gambling sting keeps racking up. 

In total 16 people so far have ended up in handcuffs. 

They're charged with promoting gambling, running a gambling place, and having gambling machines. 

Those are misdemeanors, but they face an even stiffer charge of enganging in organized criminal activity which is a felony.

Hundreds of slot machines were seized in Thursday's illegal gambling sting. 

They look like the real thing, but they're not supposed to be the real thing.

On Thursday morning, authorities found enough gambling computer games to fill a casino in Vegas. 

State troopers sezied 200 illegal games. 

We wanted to know why they crossed the line and how common gambling is in West Texas. 

"We go to them, if they violate the law, they go to jail," Midland County Sheriff Gary Painter, said. "We don't play pattycake."

The game is over at four Odessa adult arcades.

"There are people that want to make money, and they'll do it any way they can," Sheriff Painter said.

"As soon as you receive anything of value, whether it be a prize, a gift, a penny, whatever it is, then you have committed a violation of the law," Sheriff Painter said.

Several years ago, the Sheriff's Office sent undercover officers into Midland gaming stores and all were found in compliance with the law.

"Right now, there's about 4-5 places in Midland that have the machines," Sheriff Painter said.

According to Sheriff Painter, it doesn't matter what you win from the machine, a ticket, cash, or any type of prize is all illegal.

NewsWest 9 spoke with D.P.S. Officials on Friday and  they say, an 8 liner is a computer slot machine, something like you'd see in Vegas. You don't actually put coins in, or pull a handle, but you pay money then receive a prize if you win.

"There are those that go behind your back, that do it," Sheriff Painter said. "And they're going to get caught. They're going to get busted, and they're going to go to jail."

He says playing games like poker is fine as long as you don't play for money, or if you donate winnings to a cause.

"I think we're very fortunate to have as few businesses that are committing illegal acts that we do now," Sheriff Painter said. "There are some communities that just let it go, and that's something we can't allow to happen."

But what about places like Chuckie Cheese and Gatty's? According to the Sheriff, as long as the game is for kids and the prize value is under $25, it's O.K.

"It's not the same venue as the gambling," Sheriff Painter said.

Right now, authorities are still investigating and the State won't comment at this time as to whether or not more arrests will be made.