Los Angeles Council Members Fighting Illegal Gambling Dens

LA City Council Hall

The city council in Los Angeles is looking at new legal measures to try and fight illegal gambling dens.

The city of Los Angeles is currently fighting illegal gambling dens, and something called ‘slaphouses’. The City Council reported this week that they are reviewing new measures to try and stop this illegal activity from taking place. A motion was filed this week directing city departments to find ways to stop landlords from leasing commercial properties to anyone who might use it for illegal means. If someone is found to have broken the rules and offered illegal gaming, the lease must be terminated.

Details of the Illegal Activity

According to Councilman Bob Blumenfield, the games being offered are not friendly, weekend poker games. The dens are fully functioning illegal casinos and have gambling machines that people are using on a regular basis. These facilities also have ties to local and organized crime syndicates. The City Council wants to get a handle on the issue now so that these organizations can be stopped in their tracks.

The illegal gambling dens are using traditional gambling machines but the slaphouses are something new. They are known for offering games that come from overseas. The name slaphouse comes from the sound made from bashing buttons on the games.

The machines come into the US from areas like Korea, Japan and China. They are arcade style games that feature a skill element. These facilities will look like a traditional business and may even have the same signage that the previous storefronts used. However, inside, the illegal games are taking place with wagering.

Police raids in Los Angeles frequently uncover an arcade style game known as a fishing game. These games are popular in Asia and allow players to fish underwater for money. The games are now becoming a staple in slaphouses and titles are distributed from companies based in China.

Crime on the Rise

These slaphouses and illegal gambling dens are also connected to an increase in crime in Los Angeles. Gang activity is on the rise as well as prostitution and drugs. In 2019 alone, the LAPD completed 48 search warrants on illegal gambling dens, and this was a 300% increase from 2018.

The criminal activity has been so prevalent that even news teams are following Vice units to see what is going on. FOX 11 took part in nine raids with the Valley Bureau in San Fernando Valley to reveal what is taking place. According to the news outlet, the finances for the slaphouses and servers are controlled by criminals located in Eastern Europe.

In a motion by the City Council, the LA Department of Building and Safety along with the LAPD and Department of City Planning, Department of Water and Power, are prepared to report strategies and tools that will stop the operators from setting up services at abandoned storefronts.

The goal is to provide tools to everyone involved so that the LAPD are not the only ones trying to stop the illegal gambling dens from taking place. The process will also hopefully eliminate such activity from going on, including drugs and prostitution.

The illegal gambling dens remain in operation as legal card rooms in the area are shutting down. Just this week, card rooms in Los Angeles County were closed due to an increase in COVID-19 cases. As the virus count goes up, government officials are afraid that hospitals will be overrun with patients and there will not be enough spaces for everyone.

The card rooms provide a safe space for gambling and revenues for the cities in which they operate. Without the services, funds will dry up and many regions may face budget shortfalls. This on top of the illegal gambling dens are problems facing the state of California at the moment. If the city council can get these measures in place, hopefully it will help to cut down on the issues that the area is facing.

Associate Writer: Geoff enjoys both live and online poker as well as casino games, and is particularly knowledgeable about the legal landscape of online gambling.