Despite previous well-publicized raids, arrests and warnings, illegal game rooms continue to operate. Consequently, the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office Special Investigations Unit continues to investigate, shutting down the businesses and taking their proprietors to jail.
On Sunday, the SIU served warrants at Four Aces, located at 22570 Ford Road in New Caney; The Treasure Bay, located at 23120 Payne Road in New Caney; and a residence in the 23100 block of Payne Road in New Caney. On Monday, they served warrants in Harris County at residences located in the 6200 block of Laramie in Houston; the 13600 block of Midfield Glen Court in Houston and the 5300 block of Atascocita West Trail in Humble.
Assisted by the Texas Department of Public Safety, MCSO Criminal Investigations Division, MCSO District 3 Patrol Division and the Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office, the SIU arrested eight suspects and seized $180,000 in cash, along with computers, security systems, documents and gambling related items. Lt. Phillip Cash, SIU supervisor, said the scenario was the same as in almost all illegal gambling cases investigated in the area. The businesses contained casino-style 8-liner machines and winners were paid in cash.
Cash said patrons see the game rooms as an alternative to traveling to casinos, but never consider that since the game rooms are illegal, the machines are not regulated and the paybacks are set around 40 percent at best. These machines are never set to win the grand prize because no one will be checking them, Cash said. The MCSO often hears complaints not only from neighbors of these establishments, but from family members of the patrons, who are often surviving on fixed and very low incomes and spending money that should be set aside for rent and groceries.
Not only do the illegal game rooms feed gambling addictions and take money needed for survival, they attract people who are not sleeping because they are under the influence of drugs or for those looking for a place to make drug transactions where they may not be noticed, Cash said. Due to the amount of currency kept at illegal gaming locations, they have also been the site of robberies and shootings, he said.
Arrested were: Albertine Morris, 69, of New Caney; 25-year-old Randy Bailey and 25-year-old Melissa Bailey of Splendora; Kenneth Hickman, 43, of Pasadena; Eric Moore, 48, of Houston; Jimmy Nguyen, 24, of Houston; Kelly Carrasco, 24, of Splendora, and 70-year-old Jimmy Miaoulis of Humble.
All eight suspects were charged with Engaging in Organized Criminal Activities, which is a state jail felony and three Class A misdemeanors: Promotion of Gambling, Keeping a Gambling Place and Possession of Gambling Equipment.