Austin police apprehend 14 suspects during SWAT situation at what police call ‘illegal game room’

Austin

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Neighbors’ suspicions are confirmed. Police say an illegal game room was operating on Burnet Road just North of 183. 

Austin Police detained more than dozen people today after one of them started threatening people with a gun. KXAN spoke to the building’s landlord who says he’s surprised. 

The tension was at an all-time high for the workers at Gomez Floors. 

“I ended up laying down so I could calm down for a little bit,” said Jose Gomez of Gomez Floors. 

He said his day began just like any other Wednesday, until SWAT filled their driveway. The target was a man barricaded inside what APD is calling an illegal game room. 

According to police, at around 1:10 p.m. SWAT used a distraction device and breached the business to find and detain the suspect inside.

They said since the business had no name outside, they are lead to believe it was operating as an illegal game room.

This incident is currently an ongoing investigation with APD’s Organized Crime Unit.

“Everything as far as I know is legal,” said James Wang, the owner of StarTechPC, an electronics repair shop next door and the landlord of the entire building. 

Wang said he remembers when the renters approached him about a year ago, asking to take over the office space next door. He said they showed him the gaming machines and what they said were the licenses for the games. 

“I thought it was like any other gaming place inside country bars, a bunch of places in Austin, same thing.”  

James Wang, Landlord

For the businesses nearby, they say the clientele that hung around the building should’ve raised red flags. Wang said he’s working to find a new tenant. 

“I have been a business owner in Austin for 28 years, and I have to go by the book,” Wang said. “We are going to get a regular business in there. We are talking right now. So definitely going to have to a different type of business in there.”  

Coincidentally, just a few doors down is another gaming room. The worker KXAN spoke to there said everything is legal and they don’t like the bad press this is causing for the business. He refused to speak on camera but said he had his own doubts about the legality of the room when he stopped in once or twice. 

Texas Gambling rules

But to simplify things, ask yourself, what’s the prize? 

If a machine awards you a toy or novelty item or tickets, likely it’s legal. Money? Probably not. 

It’s also a question of whether the place is open to the public. Private establishments have some protections. 

And above all, what are the odds? Other than skill or luck, were the chances of winning or losing the same for all players and parties? If not, then it’s likely illegal gambling. 

KXAN Investigates

KXAN Investigators have gone along with the Austin Police Vice Squad in the past. 

The team relies on tips from neighbors to bust these kinds of operations. There’s usually a lot of cash on hand, since illegal business operators don’t often go to banks. Thieves often target them because operators can’t contact police without admitting they’re running an illegal business. 

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