Citywide raids target illegal gambling

Five Internet cafés in Lancaster were shut down Thursday because authorities suspected the stores were actually a front for illegal gambling.

Five Internet cafés in Lancaster were shut down Thursday because authorities suspected the stores were actually a front for illegal gambling.

LANCASTER – Nearly three dozen officers raided several businesses in Lancaster Thursday as part of a citywide operation targeting illegal gambling.

The operation, a joint effort between the Lancaster Sheriff’s Station, the city’s Public Safety Office and the State’s Bureau of Labor Standards, was the first operation in L.A. County that targeted online gambling, according to Lancaster Community Relation’s deputy Michael Rust.

Rust shows where a patron won money as part of an illegal gambling scheme.

Rust shows where a patron won money as part of an illegal gambling scheme.

Complaints from residents and neighboring businesses led authorities to local Internet cafés suspected of operating as online casinos, Rust said.

“They’re all the same complaints, that loved ones are going in there and gambling away rent money,’” Rust said, adding that some patrons were using EBT cards to gamble.

There were also complaints of public intoxication, loitering of gang members, fighting in public, and other quality of life issues and public nuisances, according to Miguel T. Ruiz of the Lancaster Sheriff’s Station. After a two-month investigation, authorities simultaneously served search warrants at five separate internet café locations in Lancaster Thursday afternoon.

The I-Spot, at 1015 West Avenue I, was shut down as part of Thursday's raid.

The I-Spot, at 1015 West Avenue I, was shut down as part of Thursday’s raid.

The locations had business licenses to operate as internet cafes; however, casino style computer “slot machine” games of chance were promoted in the establishments, Ruiz said.

At the “I Spot”, located at 1015 West Avenue I, officers surprised nearly 30 patrons.

“Roulette, slot machines, poker, keno, whatever games you want to play, just like Vegas… they’re all placing bets and they’re winning money,” Rust said.

The patrons were briefly detained as authorities ran their names for warrants.

Some said they were not aware that their actions were illegal.

This lady was arrested when authorities searched her name and found a $50,000 narcotics warrant.

This lady was arrested when authorities searched her name and found a $50,000 narcotics warrant.

“We were just like innocent bystanders coming to gamble,” said 19-year-old Andrew Martinez. “It’s not like they had a sign that said that this is illegal gambling, it’s like we didn’t even know.”

At least one customer at the “I Spot” was arrested after deputies discovered there was a $50,000 narcotics warrant for the woman’s arrest, Rust said.

Thursday’s citywide operation also targeted establishments at 1336 West Avenue J; 2751 West Avenue L, Suite A; 616 East Avenue K, units 103 and 105; and 2330 Mall Loop Road #111.

Authorities seized 150 computers, documents of gambling debts owed to customers, and approximately $5,000 in cash. Three people were cited for the misdemeanor violation of conducting gambling operations. A parolee-at-large was also arrested, Ruiz said.

All targeted businesses were shut down by the city of Lancaster, officials said. The investigation is ongoing.

Editor’s Note: Story updated with information from deputy Miguel T. Ruiz of the Lancaster Sheriff’s Station.

  39 comments for “Citywide raids target illegal gambling

  1. Scott Pelka
    March 28, 2013 at 11:32 am

    Funny… their ALL in Lancaster.

    • Chris
      March 28, 2013 at 12:11 pm

      That is because it was the Lancaster station conducting the search.

  2. KOUI
    March 25, 2013 at 9:59 pm

    “There were also complaints of public intoxication, loitering of gang members, fighting in public, and other quality of life issues and public nuisances”. Funny, when we call the non-emergency line to the sheriff’s station in Lancaster, to report the such things that go on on our street, they tell us they’re too busy or, they have to “see it” in order to do anything about it. Never thought about it before, but maybe if we told them there was gambling going on they might get their a** in gear and do something about the problems the good people in this city face everyday. Sorry, I’m venting.

  3. March 24, 2013 at 2:30 pm

    So they got them to pay for the business license without checking them out completely because of the greedy city of Lancaster.
    They spruced up the Blvd, but neglected other areas in dire need of a good cleaning…and not just of scumbags. The ghetto folks you speak about are here due to Rev. Hearns, but no one ever mentions this ever.
    A casino in this area would help the local economy a lot. They screen the people that go in to gamble so it would be safe.
    I hate going in to many stores due to the pan handlers and beggars, but I just say “I don’t have enough money for myself so you’re asking the wrong person. But I do go in and just avoid the beggars cause they really don’t need the money….I do.
    A thorough investigation should be done to see who allowed these internet cafes to establish their businesses.

    • Told_Ya_So aka Forewarned
      March 24, 2013 at 4:16 pm

      I have said numerous times that Rev Hearns was the reason for the explosion of Section 8 here in the AV. In the 1990’s there where rumors of buses going down to the LA hoods to bring up the “ghettoites” for “affordable” housing. I believe it was all Rev Hearns idea since he was the mayor at the time. The Antelope Valley has never been the same since. Smh

      • Told_Ya_So aka Forewarned
        March 24, 2013 at 4:18 pm

        I see my comment is Awaiting Moderation By The Av Times Leftist-Progressive censors…again!

  4. D. Pearson
    March 24, 2013 at 1:35 pm

    My wife was cited by the Lancaster Sheriff Department for being part of the “so called” Illegal gambling. First of all, It was not a gambling facility, It was an internet café that promoted the sales of internet time by using a sweepstakes. The same way that Mcdonalds offers chances to win there prizes offered in there sweepstakes by upsizing your meal. What most of you ignorant people need to do is go to the California state site for Consumer Affairs and read the law word for word on the rules of sweepstakes legality for California. When you do that you would find that the Ispot conducted business to a tee according to California state law. And my other point is about the unsavory people that hung around this establishment. Anyone from Lancaster knows this area has been run down and ghetto for years, certainly way before this business was here and sure to be way after it is gone. So please give that a rest. The bottom line my wife took a part time job to help pay the bills during this economic crisis. We filed are W2’s togeather, and the city of Lancaster issued them a business license. None of the employees were under the impression this was an illegal business, and according to state law…it’s not as of right now. To site the employees and patrons instead of the owners and people of the city that issued the business license is down right fowl.

    • my2cents
      March 24, 2013 at 3:43 pm

      D. Pearson:Tell it to the judge! Then please come back here and report to us the outcome!

      • D.Pearson
        March 24, 2013 at 4:45 pm

        Will do.

        • NotAgain
          March 24, 2013 at 6:13 pm


          • Nick
            March 26, 2013 at 7:00 pm

            I love how this insult flies but not personal opinion or facts on this site.

      March 28, 2013 at 10:14 am

      They all knew it was illegal. The city even mailed warnings to stop offering the “sweepstakes”. I guess since circus circus is a circus, its not gambling there either. Its a SWEEPSTAKES.

  5. kim
    March 23, 2013 at 10:23 am

    Thank god they shut it down i work around there and all these guetto people where always bothering customers and fighting and selling drugs they tought noone knew but we all knew dumb ass people.

  6. Told_Ya_So aka Forewarned
    March 23, 2013 at 8:13 am

    Husband and I go to Pechanga and/or Morongo Indian Casino all the time. They are always packed. Why doesn’t anyone build an Indian Casino around here? Don’t we have Tehachapi (Kawaiisu Indians) land we could build on? We have the Antelope Valley Indian Museum could we build on that? Think of the ca$h it would bring in! I know some people think casino’s bring crime but Pechanga and Morongo are very clean places. No crime either. Think of all the jobs it would bring. I think we need to think seriously about building a (legal) casino in the AV!

    • Told_Ya_So aka Forewarned
      March 23, 2013 at 8:44 am

      Looks like my comment is Awaiting Moderation By The Av Times Leftist-Progressive censors.

      • Nick
        March 26, 2013 at 7:01 pm

        Dont we have one in Rosamond?

  7. sammy P
    March 22, 2013 at 1:48 pm

    I wish I had known about this – I would have given it a try :)

    I don’t believe gambling should be illegal, its another case of too much government involved in our lives.

    50 states, all have the the power to make laws in that state – then cities and counties can make laws as well. So depending on where you happen to live- you must abide by laws set by the opinion of 5 or 10 people who sat around a table and forced their opinion on you.

    And we have “lawmakers” – people who’s job it is to make new laws.. does not matter if the laws we have now are good – they MUST make new ones every year – its their job, and they want to keep their job… so they make new laws. More things we citizens are not allowed to do.

    Have a fight with your wife and want to sleep in the back of your car? sorry – illegal. Want to invite some friends over and play poker for quarters? sorry – illegal.

    democracy – what a joke. Most of us are just trying to survive, we dont have time to protest and try and change things.. we are at the mercy of those in power.. and their opinions that they force on us.

    in my opinion – gambling is no worse then many other things we live with in society.. we live with tobacco deaths, we live with alcohol deaths.. but we cant put up with gambling? OMG we must put a stop to THAT! That’s whats ruining our way of life! (sigh)

    Pfft. ya right.

    People seem to be ok with new laws.. as long as it does not affect them. But when a new law is created that affects YOU – then you get mad. Well here is a thought – perhaps you should stand against ANY laws that take away our freedoms, and maybe its not right that 6 retards in a city council meeting can take your rights away.

    People who will never have to sleep in their car, ya its easy to pass a law that does not affect you.

    • Otto
      March 22, 2013 at 3:35 pm

      Right on, Sammy!

    • Erica
      March 22, 2013 at 10:02 pm

      Couldn’t have said it any better that’s this ! Your absolutely right !

    • Told_Ya_So aka Forewarned
      March 23, 2013 at 8:19 am

      Gambling per se isn’t illegal. We have Indian Casinos that are legal in California. But you are absolutely right Sammy P the government needs to stay out of our business! What ever happened to Personal responsibility?!

  8. Ana
    March 22, 2013 at 12:34 pm

    Yes, all of these were gambling places. I know this for a fact as I never went in as I’ve never been into that kind of crap, but I give rides to people there often. And the one thing they say is they are going in to gamble and try to win some money. I’m very glad these places were shut down because just dropping off someone at one of these places was terrible. Nasty looking people hanging out outside. It just looked so trashy. Glad it’s gone.

    • NIMBY
      March 23, 2013 at 7:55 am

      Welcome to the Nasty Trashy Antelope Valley! Smh

  9. Lola
    March 22, 2013 at 8:58 am

    EBT cards? Really? Our tax dollars being misused yet again.

    • NIMBY
      March 23, 2013 at 7:56 am

      Well Antelope Valley IS the EBT capital of the world…or a close second!

    • kim
      March 23, 2013 at 10:31 am

      Glad they shut them down they should track down the people who used their EBT on those places and cancel their benefits.

      • April
        March 26, 2013 at 9:03 am

        It doesn’t matter, gambling or not, these ppl are using EBT for fast food, alcohol, cigarettes, and lottery scratchers/tickets. It’s a dam shame. Things like this should be banned from EBT usage!! I’m sick and tired of working my butt off to earn an honest living when all these other ppl just sit on their ass and get EBT cards that they could use for anything

        • Mark
          March 26, 2013 at 12:34 pm

          welcome to the “NEW” America

  10. NIMBY
    March 22, 2013 at 7:38 am

    They should check out this small “clothing store” on the south-east corner of Challenger Way and Ave. K. Nobody in the store buying anything however hoodlum looking types hanging around outside. Could this really be a clothing store or is a front for something illegal? Don’t know but if I were the cops I would check it out.

    • Ms F
      March 22, 2013 at 8:05 am

      i live across the street from this business. Me and my daughters have shopped in this store, never noticed anything strange. Though the corners of Challenger and K have people hanging out all the time, I do not believe there is anything going on in this store.

    • Adam Chant
      March 22, 2013 at 9:48 am

      Are you sure it’s not just mannequins put out in front of the store to attract business? I know of a few businesses that do that and if the clothes are ‘urban’ then it may look like there are hoodlums standing around outside.
      Personally there are 4 girls and 1 guy standing out in front of my store that look like they are going to a disco half the time.. People all the time say they thought it was a person just standing there..
      Sometimes we have people actually hold conversations with them.. for extended periods of time even.. though they eventually make their way down toward the Tarzana Treatment Center…go figure.

      In all seriousness it’s a cultural thing for some people to stand outside of their business and especially with our weather. If it’s a liquor store it will be a fat and skinny dude in trench coats, if it’s a gun shop it will be some guys in trucker hats and flannels, if it’s a barber shop it will be some gangsta lookin’ guys with perfect cut beards and fades.. if it’s a tattoo shop it will be a guy and a girl with all kinds of metal in their face and earlobes with spinner hubcaps in them…I can go on and on.. (OVER-STATED FOR HUMOR)
      It’s called OUR community and OUR neighbors.. Say Hi some time and you’ll see they are good people just representing their culture and individual style.

      • gary
        March 22, 2013 at 11:59 am

        youre so right

    • Erica
      March 22, 2013 at 10:07 pm

      I just so happened to do the owners lIk girls hair yesterday and she is 11yrs old and told me it is clothing store as well as her mom own a toy store not everything is illegal dude u got hoodlums everywhere sad to say they are the one that’s make it bad for everyone else I seriously doubt there is Something illegal going on there sigh

  11. S
    March 22, 2013 at 7:32 am

    I have visited this place that has been the focus of all the pictures, etc. First of all, the neighborhood itself isn’t all that great, I never once believed that this business was the cause of any “riff raff” outside. I have also visited neighboring businesses and that same “riff raff” hung out at all of them even before this place was established. During my venture to Ispot, sometimes playing the games, sometimes using the internet, etc i never once felt unsafe. Rather, it was a better environment due to the security. Speaking of those “games”, i signed a paper saying they were sweepstakes, never once did I nor the people who worked there lead me to believe there was any type of “gambling” going on. With that said, “those who were gambling away their rent money with EBT cards” are simply lying to their families or something of the like because i am positive they didn’t accept EBT cards. The folks that were employed at these places are not so unprofessional or immoral that they would promote using someone’s EBT.i am beside myself that these folks have been targeted and made to look so foul. If there were patrons that were using rent money to access the internet, maybe they have problems that go deeper than what’s being said. Or maybe we should be thanking these types of places for taking such “scum” off the streets. That neighborhood alone is known for drugs, etc. i highly doubt it was this described business that brought it upon this area. I am more than disturbed that these workers and businesses are being represented so wrong.

    • NIMBY
      March 22, 2013 at 7:46 am

      Ignorance of the laws is no excuse. Of course they aren’t gonna tell you it’s illegal! Same with selling dope..have you ever heard anyone say “Hey man, it’s illegal for me to sell ya this dope but I’ll sell ya some anyways.” Sheesh we are a society of smart phone and d um b people!!!!!

      • S
        March 22, 2013 at 8:09 am my comment I originally posted in reply to this was deleted. I wonder why? All I stated was that I am not dumb, nor ignorant to the I have a law degree and am a clergy member.. wow censorship in the US? I didn’t use any foul language..i did speak of folks using their EBT to purchase alcohol and no one is up in arms over that..what’s really going on? I am disappointed.

    • Susan Sanford
      March 22, 2013 at 8:20 am

      I agree with you. I never saw gambling going on when I was in there. I think those who made claims about family members loosing all their money there is really something else. You can’t believe the all that the media reports these days. Hope the good people who worked at the cafe are proven innocent I never witnessed them doing anything like what was reported when I was there.

  12. XOXO
    March 21, 2013 at 8:23 pm

    I would go next door to my favorite Chinese Fast Food Resturant and 90% of the time i would not want to get off because so many nasty hoodlums would attack me for change to go gamble >=O ! Tank you Lancaster Sheriff’s Station :-)

    • Michael Rives
      March 21, 2013 at 11:09 pm

      The city of Lancaster should go after the landlords who own the establishments raided for allowing a nusiance on their property. I wonder if these landlords are ‘absentee’ or pillars of the community?

    • Kim
      March 22, 2013 at 12:03 pm

      I’ve never been able to walk into the dollar store without someone asking for money so I dont think that is going to solve the problem.

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