Online Gambling

What, No SWAT Team?

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Last November, acting on an anonymous tip, armed agents from California's Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control swooped down on the Lake Elsinore Elks Lodge to break up an illegal gambling operation. This month the ringleaders, a great-grandmother who tends bar at the lodge and a volunteer waitress who is also the lodge's secretary, will be in court to answer for their crime: organizing a $50 football pool. They face up to a $5,000 fine and one year in jail, while the lodge may lose its liquor license and/or be prohibited from holding its charity raffle. "I just didn't know it was illegal," the bartender told the Los Angeles NBC affiliate. "And they told me ignorance of the law is no excuse."

[Thanks to Thomas Paine's Goiter for the tip.]

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  1. It goes to show that a law against a victimless activity is a sword of Damocles that can fall on anyone.

  2. “I just didn’t know it was illegal,” the bartender told the Los Angeles NBC affiliate. “And they told me ignorance of the law is no excuse.”

    This poor woman should have followed this simple rule of thumb,”If anyone derives the slightest joy from it, it’s probably illegal.”

  3. ignorance of the law is no excuse

    Of course it’s an excuse. What they mean to say is that it doesn’t get you off.

    The gamble was that nobody was dumb enough or enough of a self-important prick to enforce it.

    Occasionally that gamble loses. And the self-important prick likes it, which is why you don’t want arbitrarily enforceable laws on the books.

  4. When they start doing this in public school* teacher’s lounges I might believe they are serious.

    *I prefer that “gun school” term that Brian mentioned during his Booknotes interview.

  5. I feel safer knowing these criminals have been stopped.

  6. Behind the bar, agents found an envelope with $5 from each of the 10 members taking part in the pool. The person who came closest to guessing the combined score of the Jacksonville Jaguars and the New York Giants was to pocket the contents.

    Since when is this a crime? It’s been a few years, but I’ve organized many an office football pool. Every Feb there would be a story in the paper where someone from the DA’s office would explain that as long as all the money collected is payed out, everything’s jake. Maybe it’s a California thing.

  7. Here in Texas, its not illegal gambling so long as the house doesn’t rake off anything.

  8. Thank God they got those senior hooligans. Who knows what other sort of activities they had planned: shuffleboard, movie night, maybe even a game of checkers.

    I feel safer knowing that old folks and cancer patients are no longer walking the same streets as our children.

  9. I’m just glad they were stopped before they could move on to harder bets, like fantasy football. It was for their own good!

  10. It’s a good thing that none of these heinous acts have ever taken place inside a police station!

  11. It’s always the same. It starts as a “harmless” little fun, then progresses to bigger things, like American Legion meat raffles, then church bingo. I’ve seen history repeat itself, over and over. The old folks never seem to learn. Football pools are addictive and a gateway to the hard stuff, like Indian casino slot machines. Nip it, nip it in the bud.

  12. Now I know where the tax money is spent. I live in Lake Elsinore, CA. Good to hear that the California’s Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control is so competent they caught those old people at the Lake Elsinore Elks Lodge gambling. Now I feel safer…LOL

  13. Just like an Elk to bring a knife to a gun fight.

  14. Hanf em…hang em high…and their little dogs too.

  15. that was supposed to be hang em, not hanf em…what the hell, hanf em too

  16. Y’know, I was raised being taught that whole “ignorance of the law bit” but considering the sheer enormity of the laws we are now burdened with, a situation where each and every one of us is probably, unknowingly, breaking some law at this very moment, I say we dump that chestnut in the same can where they’re storing the Bill of Rights.

  17. The funny thing is Elks are huge police boosters / law and order / anti-drug types and regularly commit time and money to the cause. Way to crap in your own nest there.

  18. Y’know, I was raised being taught that whole “ignorance of the law bit” but considering the sheer enormity of the laws we are now burdened with, a situation where each and every one of us is probably, unknowingly, breaking some law at this very moment, I say we dump that chestnut in the same can where they’re storing the Bill of Rights.

    IIRC, I did hear of one law that had the built in perfect defense of being ignorant of it’s existance.

    It was the DC or MD phone conversation recording statute that said something like all parties being recorded in a telephone conversation had to be informed they were being recorded, but there was no infraction if the person doing the recording was unaware of the statute.

    Came up during that Clinton trial and the issue was Tripp recording conversations with Lewinsky.

    Actually, I think that was MD (was Tripp a MD resident?) and the DC penalty was disconnection of phone service.

    If they had been in VA there would be no issue as VA was (probably still is) a single-party-concent State.

  19. Makes me wonder how much time and resources were spent by the authorities in cracking this case. Reminds me of a recent headline here in the Tampa, FL area in which undercover officers spent numerous days and about $1500 drinking and taking in the sights at a local tittie bar, just to catch 2 girls in the act of a crime (they kissed each other on the cheek, thus violating the 6-foot rule).

  20. The funny thing is Elks are huge police boosters / law and order / anti-drug types and regularly commit time and money to the cause. Way to crap in your own nest there.

    I think it’s pretty obvious that this particular Elks’ ran afoul of either a losing pool entrant or the local police. A $50 pool? You have to be kidding me.

    I’d love to see the total costs of the operation + prosecution + court time for this.

  21. Where I live, Fairfax County Virginia, we use SWAT teams and summarily execute such people. I guess there isn’t enough real crime to pursue here.

  22. One of the agents in the article is quoted as saying that they are required to investigate any report of gambling in an establishment that sells booze. Why don’t one of you Ca. residents report to the alcohol board, that there is gambling on golf and cards occuring at Riviera Country Club.

    Sure they are willing to harass some 65 year old Elks Lodge members are they willing to storm in with guns drawn at Riviera?

  23. You guys are not familiar with the “broken window” theory of law enforcement I take it?

  24. Why don’t one of you Ca. residents report to the alcohol board, that there is gambling on golf and cards occuring at Riviera Country Club.

    Genius.

  25. Your Good Buddy Johnny Clarke- You nailed it on the head. We have so many laws and new ones coming out daily that even the people writting the laws (known for not reading them before passing most of the time as well) know exactly what it says or to what extent certain provisions apply. Anytime we have a new law its like OK who wants to get arrested and haul it through the legal system with challenges first? They have laws which until they are broken and someone is arrested for it the courts are not even sure how to prosecute them.

    So many new laws as knee jerk reactions to non-issues or perceived issues. No more cops to enforce all the laws, lots of automatically new law breakers with each law passed and no real sense of what the laws say to begin with. There are so many laws, regulations (also read laws), restrictions etc etc etc that no one and I mean nobody can possibly tell you what it says in an exact and precise way thats clearly defined. Not the people that wrote it and made it law or the enforcers of those laws. OSHA have stacks of regs, think anyone there can tell you exactly what they all are besides the ones used daily?

    I work in Compliance for a pharmaceutical company with lots of regulations. In the past trying to find out one way or another about a reg I called 4 different people at the Regulatory Agency itself and 4 times I heard the same exact response “according to my interpretation.” Think that answer given during a phone call would hold up in court if the regulation was to be questioned as wrong?

    Asked for them to give me someone that could use words like definitive, precisely, exactly etc and never got a single person that would say anything close to that. These are the people telling us we have to live by these regs, yet they can’t tell us what they mean. Worthless waste of time, money and effort what more can you say.

    We recently had an issue here with poker tournaments in bars where no entry money was going to the house, all was paid out. Then the ABC board threatened to take away the bars hosting the events liquor license since it was supposedly a violation to have a game with wagering even if you only profited from the patrons buying drinks etc and made nothing from the game fees. So a few bars kept doing it and eventually they arrested someone and now its working its way through court. 1st case on such charges so no precedent is set.

  26. One more thing. After having dealt with this crap and witnessed other amazing incidents of regulatory/law enforcement BS I have come to the only sensible conclusion for all this crap.

    They write these laws as such and never say what exactly anything means in a black/white style so that in the future event they want to fuck you over they can suddenly change their “interpretation,” to mean something other than what you have already done based on their input. This way you will always be beholden to them and at their mercy to cut you slack or kiss their ass. The other reason they are written as such is so that those that write them and those that break them have lots and lots of wiggle room to get out of anything they might have done themselves in violation of any laws. Hell the very word interpretation by its own definition is open to interpretation. How in the hell are we supposed to act on that as our assurance now we are doing the right thing, by law?

    All depends what your definition of “is,” is.

  27. Dee – do you have any links to info on that poker case?

  28. Dee, you nailed it on the head. I wouldn’t be surprised at all see Congress dispense with the bother of getting bills in writing before voting on them. They could go with a brief PowerPoint presentation and vote on that. The bureaucrasts could fill in the details later. Or not.

  29. “You guys are not familiar with the “broken window” theory of law enforcement I take it?”

    I’m with Dan. Broken window policing worked great for NY. CA cops just need to ass rape some of these oldsters with a mop, or whatever. We can’t have these folks giving cover to hard crime.

    Dan, buffing this turd to a high shine ?

  30. I would plead not guilty and ask for a trial. Then some jerk like me could get on the jury and refuse to enforce such a stupid law. Jury Nullification – check it out – you have the power to vote not guilty on laws or charges that are trivial, stupid or immoral… (But then maybe he’ll get stuck with 12 chumps who don’t know they have such rights…)

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