BUSINESS

California card rooms’ federal bust ends in 25 indictments

TAGs: arrests, California, illegal poker game, Jasmine Solana, sports betting

More than two dozen people were arrested in a massive illegal gambling ring that authorities said netted $10 million in profits from sports betting, poker and other high-stakes games played at a swanky rented mansion in California.

California card rooms’ federal bust ends in 25 indictmentsA two-year long federal probe ended early Wednesday morning, when law enforcement officers barged inside two casinos—the Seven Mile Casino and the Black Jack Palomar Casino—in San Diego, Calif., and issued arrest warrants for 25 people accused of “conspiracy to launder millions in profits from high stakes poker games,” NBC San Diego reported.

Aside from California, similar arrests were also made in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Nevada, Northern California, Los Angeles and Orange County on charges that range from bookmaking, money laundering and failing to report winnings to federal authorities, according to the report.

Among those arrested was former Philadelphia bookmaker David “Fat Dave” Stroj, who federal prosecutors said hired people to recruit players for the high-stakes games held several times weekly in the local clubs. The clients, meanwhile, wrote checks to the casinos, and the funds were deposited into “marker” accounts at the card rooms, The San Diego Union-Tribune reported.

Stroj reportedly pocketed at least $500,000 in profit from the $2 million the card rooms make each month.

He was charged with running an illegal bookmaking, poker and blackjack, money laundering, and transporting someone from Mexico to California with the intent to engage in prostitution, according to several media outlets.

Meanwhile, Palomar Card Club operator Naseem “Nick” Salem is accused of failing to track winners earning more than $10,000 a day. Prosecutors also said Salem shifted the money on a separate blackjack and poker business to escape federal detection.

The Palomar Card Club was close to being shut down in October after regulators learned that its owners Donald and Susan Staats turned over the operations to their daughter, who is an unlicensed operator.

Souza’s card room had just opened in July, but unlike tribal casinos, the Seven Mile Casino doesn’t have slot machines. Instead, patrons were given the option to play blackjack, baccarat, pai-gow and poker, according to an earlier NBC report.

The Seven Mile released a statement, saying, “As a family and as a business, they are very much invested in the community of Chula Vista and the industry. We look forward to working with the California Bureau of Gambling Control to resolve all issues.”

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