Police crack down on poker playing

Nov 15, 2005 4:16 AM

Poker players, encouraged by the popularity of the World Poker Tour (WPTE) and Harrah’s Entertainment Inc.’s (HET) World Series of Poker, have been taking their lumps on the East Coast lately.

Police raids in New York City and Baltimore, Md., have been discouraging a number of players who fear being arrested.

In Baltimore, police rounded up 80 players in a recent sweep of poker denizens and proudly announced it was the biggest police raid since Prohibition. However, prosecutors, facing public criticism, decided to drop the charges saying they believed the police used the wrong subsection of the law when they made the arrests.

The failure to prosecute didn’t deter police who indicated they would try to iron out the proper charges and continue their raids.

New York police began their poker raids in May when they descended on the New York Players Club in Manhattan and confiscated $100,000 while arresting 39 employees.

The raids continued through the summer and fall with the most publicized raid coming against the Broadway Club in the Flatiron District, a club reportedly patronized by Alex Rodriguez of the New York Yankees.

Police said at least a dozen clubs have closed since the raids began.

And, in Florida, where poker is legal at certain pari-mutuel facilities, the state Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering has banned all poker tournaments following complaints about the size of the tournaments, the entry fees, and a dispute over the language in the state law.

Singapore plans

Even though costs of two casinos in Singapore are expected to exceed $5 billion, officials say they expect a dozen gaming companies to respond to their request for proposals to be issued this week.

Among the companies identified were: Harrah’s Entertainment Inc. (HET), MGM MIRAGE Inc. (MGM), Kerzner International Ltd. (KZL), Wynn Resorts Ltd. (WYNN), Las Vegas Sands Corp. (LVS), Stanley Ho’s Melco International Development, Sun International Ltd. of South Africa, Star Cruises Ltd. (SARC), TabCorp Holdings Ltd. (TAH), Peermont Global, Eighth Wonder Development Group and GuocoLand Ltd.

THE INSIDER: Although the margin of victory was a slim 90 votes, election officials have certified that Oaklawn Park racetrack in Hot Springs, Ark., can install video poker machines. Voters also have approved machines for Southland Greyhound Park in West Memphis.

Scientific Games Corporation (SGMS) is the successful bidder for the instant ticket contract being offered by the Vermont Lottery.

Now that Penn National Gaming Inc. (PENN) has opened its slots emporium in Bangor, Maine, supporters of a tribal racetrack casino in eastern Maine have started collecting the necessary 50,219 signatures to place the proposal before the voters in November, 2006.

Isle of Capri Casinos Inc. (ISLE) will report its second quarter results on Thursday, Nov. 17.

Nevada’s gaming revenue increased 9.63% in September to $1.01 billion. Strip casinos reported revenues jumped 17.8% to $541.22 million.