NACOGDOCHES COUNTY, TX (KTRE) – Authorities executed search warrants to raid two separate gambling establishments late Friday night, citing several patrons, and arresting four employees for operating the parlors.
Michael Allen, 38, Hollis Mallard, 36, Shahzad Imtiaz, 26, and Paresh Sawant, 27 were arrested and charged with keeping a gambling place, a class A misdemeanor. Bond was set at $2,500. All four bonded out Saturday.
Patrons came to play, and win but their night of fun was cut short when authorities raided the two suspected gambling parlors.
"It's really embarrassing," said patron Tammy Martin.
But not embarrassing enough to stop people like Martin from coming back, time and time again.
"I'm not going to lie, I win all the time," said Martin.
One by one, patrons were cited and then escorted out the door. After Friday night many said they learned their lesson.
"Stop gambling, that's what's really going through my head," said Martin.
"The minute they receive the citation they're going you know I'm strapped, I can't pay my bills, how am I going to pay this citation. Well if you're strapped and you can't pay the citation how are you able to afford the game in the first place?" said Nacogdoches County Sheriff Thomas Kerss.
Martin said she was a regular at the 7-star Parlor.
"Why did you come here tonight?"
"I come all the time. Plus they said it was legal."
Playing eight-liners for any type of cash payout is illegal in Texas, but investigators said companies like Donate Zone owned by Hest Technologies, often try to find a way around the law.
"They're allowing the patrons to designate donations but there's still no provision in the law that allows you to donate money that you earn off an illegal gaming activity," said Kerss.
Kerss said authorities have been investigating both locations for weeks.
"We had to do a little more research on this, try and study how the pay-out was going. We sent undercover officers in a couple of nights ago to see how the gaming play was still progressing," said Kerss.
One parlor was located on Woden Road, less than a mile from the Woden area. Kerss said roughly 15 citations were issued to patrons while one employee was arrested for operating the establishment. Investigators confiscated roughly $2,700 in cash. According to Kerss, the Woden location is believed to be linked to an Austin based company involved with other illegal gaming operations.
Authorities also raided and shut down a parlor located on Stallings Drive near Woden Road. Kerss said 20 to 25 patrons were cited, while three were arrested for operating the establishment. Authorities uncovered roughly $4,700 in cash. Kerss said the establishment is believed to be linked to a Fort Worth based company also involved with illegally operated establishments.
After shutting down both facilities, investigators seized roughly 70 gaming machines from both parlors.
Kerss said the Nacogdoches County Sheriff's Department was assisted by the Nacogdoches Police Department, Constables Office in Precinct 4, the Attorney General's Office, as well as the Texas Rangers.