A smoke shop in the 805 was recently busted for having an illegal gambling machine in its back room.
Only tribal casinos can have gambling machines
Yet, underground games exist because California’s 39 million residents represent a higher demand than the state’s 150-plus combined casinos and cardrooms can supply.
The smoke shop in question is in Port Hueneme. The closest cardroom is 20 minutes away in Ventura, and its closest casino is over an hour away.
Players were playing on machine at time of bust
In October, Port Hueneme Police Department served a search warrant on the Cali Cloud Smoke Shop after detectives got word of the machine a month earlier.
The seized “machina” had two stations for players, both occupied at the time of the raid. In addition to the gambling machine, police seized illegal tobacco products and roughly $2,500 in cash related to illegal gambling.
What are machinas?
According to police, machinas are gambling machines with playing stations that could not be confused with arcade machines.
Common arcade machines have a six-button configuration, machinas do not.
Authorities targeting illegal gaming halls
The Port Hueneme raid is not the first of its kind in recent history. Illegal gambling busts often uncover drug activity, weapons or other illicit dealings.
Orange County, Los Angeles and Pomona have all cracked down on illegal gambling operations this year. The incidents involved connections to drug trafficking, money laundering, grand theft and a shooting.
Of course, plenty more slap houses operate throughout the state. Law enforcement is doing what it can. In 2021, San Bernardino authorities shut down 30 illegal operations run by the Westside Verdugo gang, seizing more than 100 illegal gambling machines and arresting 180 people connected to the ring.
Also connected were five homicides, four attempted murders and “a host of other crimes.” The entire investigation seized over 100 weapons, hundreds of pounds of illegal drugs and almost $300,000 in cash.
Hueneme case remains unresolved
The Ventura County Star reports that no arrests have come from the Port Hueneme smoke shop raid.
Scott Matalon, spokesman for Port Hueneme Police Department, said the investigation is ongoing.
Anyone with questions or further information can call Senior Detective Baltazar Tapia at 805-986-6619 or email him at [email protected]