Gambling

SWAT Team Raids Poker Game in Virginia, Because It Could've Gotten Robbed

Games of chance where the house

|

Dogs playing poker
allspice1/flickr

You can marry your cousin in Virginia, but you can NOT participate in organized games of chance (except the State-sponsored ones). Virginia takes its gambling laws seriously. A few years ago Fairfax County spent $300,000 on losing bets in an effort to target a Vegas bookie and his operators in Virginia. The county used to organize regular armed raids against gamblers until a cop shot and killed optometrist Sal Culosi in a raid triggered by betting on college football.

The Fairfax County Police Department, however, continues to use its SWAT team to fight illegal gambling, recently seizing $150,000 and arresting eight people on misdemeanor charges of "illegal gambling" in a high stakes poker game at Great Falls. Because the house took a cut, police considered the operation a "criminal enterprise." The operator of the game insisted the cut was to pay dealers and assistants working the game. Even if he were turning a profit, it should never be a crime to turn a profit on consensual, non-violent actions. And when police use SWAT teams to target such actions, they're the ones introducing violence to the situation.

The Washington Post reports:

One regular at the game said he glanced out the French doors in the basement, and "I saw these helmets bobbing up and down" in the darkened backyard. The shadowy figures yelled that they were Fairfax County police with a search warrant, then opened the door and about eight officers in black marched in. "They were all yelling, 'Does anybody have a weapon?' and 'please don't move'" at the seated players, the player said. "One pointed his assault rifle at me and said, 'Hands up.' And I can't believe this is happening."

There were no guns at the table, and no resistance, the player said. "They could've sent a retired detective with a clipboard and gotten the same result," he added. He requested anonymity so as not to jeopardize the case against him or his professional career.

Cops insist the raid was a preventative measure, a pre-emptive strike of sorts, as The Post explains:

[A] regular player said the police told him, "The reason we're here is there are Asian gangs targeting these games," and it's certainly true that some private gambling events in Fairfax County have been robbed by nefarious elements. The player said he wanted to respond, "So you robbed us first," but he did not.

Legalizing gambling, and "legalizing fun" in general, would go a long way to protect poker players and other people who engage in consensual, non-violent behavior criminalized by the state. In Virginia at least, it would mean not just that game operators could call police if they were targeted by robbers, but that they could defend themselves in the case of an assault.

NEXT: A.M. Links: Obama Veto Threats At Record Pace, Snow Not So Much, Shadows on Mars

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Even if he were turning a profit, it should never be a crime to turn a profit on consensual, non-violent actions

    I like football, and I can understand the appeal of UFC and boxing. Otherwise, you’re spot on.

    1. I have to admit I would watch gladiator matches if they were legal and the participants there voluntarily.

      1. Years ago, there was (briefly) a game show called The Sphere. The contestant sat inside the eponymous device, which was a torture machine. If he answered a question wrong, bam.

        The novelty of course was irresistable, but it took about 1.5 episodes before I lost my stomach for that kind of entertainment, and apparently I wasn’t the only one. The cancellation of that show goosed my hope for humanity a little.

  2. The Fairfax County Police Department, however, continues to use its SWAT team to fight illegal gambling…

    I wonder why they go to such trouble over consensual, non-violent activity.

    …recently seizing $150,000…

    Oh.

    1. Unpossible! All right-thinking people know that government is better because it’s free from that evil profit motive.

    2. The money’s part of it. The other part is that deputy fife really loves to rough people up and imagine what his life would be like if his dick was longer than two inches.

      -jcr

      1. he nipped that shit in the bud.

        1. …..nipped it!

    3. And it’s Fairfax County. If they didn’t use their SWAT for that, it would sit gathering dust and someone could suggest disbanding it. Those fine officers would be left writing moving violations all day long instead of playing Army once in a while.

  3. But imagine what will happen if the police don’t do this! Societies will crumble! The Potomac River will run with blood! Nazis will once again ride dinosaurs down Georgetown Pike!

    1. “Human Sacrifice, dogs and cats living together, mass hysteria!”

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JmzuRXLzqKk

  4. Even if he were turning a profit, it should never be a crime to turn a profit on consensual, non-violent actions.

    Did they pay the king his share of the profits? No? Well then. Of course they’re going to be raided and robbed by the king’s men.

    1. This. Good luck finding any jurisdiction anywhere on planet earth that will let you run a casino without a license. Maybe the South Pole.

      1. Actually, since the South Pole is jointly owned I think it would be worse as all of the kings would want their vig.

        1. what if, and this is just a theory, we put a big flag on it and claim it? Too late for that?

          1. If you’ve got nukes to back up your flag, go right ahead.

          2. Lots of governments make such claims. Those conflicting claims are de facto inconsequential since the opportunities for material resources are pretty low in Antarctica. If there were more valuable scarce resources to fight over, you can bet your ass people would be fighting over them.

            1. By “people” you mean governments, since what they’re fighting for is the money they extort from the people who actually do the work.

              1. Correct. I should’ve clarified. If it were simply people, they’d be homesteading and appropriating within the norms of property rights. People are good at and benefit from avoiding conflict, governments are good at and benefit from the opposite.

    2. You know its funny, but all that money was already taxed. Each of the players had already paid his gelt.

      1. Is there some left? Yes? Then they haven’t paid enough.

      2. Yeah, but money was changing hands. Whenever that happens the king gets a cut. At least that’s how my dad described “the invisible hand” to me as a child. The invisible hand is the government taking its fair share whenever there is a transaction, without which society would not function. (Did I ever mention he’s Tony-level derp when it comes to politics and economics?)

        1. yeah, that’s pretty fucking derp… however, it’s also pretty accurate. Not the “society would not function” part, bu the understanding that the government ALWAYS takes a slice of transactions.

          I would love to see a real breakdown of a dollar earned in value and how many times that dollar is taxed. I mean, it’s taxed when it’s created (twice!) with a sales tax and a tax on the profit (for the created value). Then it’s taxed as income. then it’s taxed again when spent… etc.

          REASON- get on this. A great infographic or white board video showing how many times the same money is taxed please.

          1. I have always wondered what the actual cost of certain items would be – say a car – if you could account for dollar siphoned off to the government at every step starting from scratch. It becomes incredibly difficult to account for it. Start, say, with the guy digging the iron ore – you’ve got his income taxes, you have the taxes on his equipment and the taxes paid by the people who built his equipment and the taxes paid on his fuel and the taxes paid for building the trucks that transport the ore and the taxes of workers who process the ore and the taxes they pay on the gasoline that runs their cars and on and on ad infinitum in every direction. It’s really impossible to calculated, I guess, but I would certainly hazard that a majority chunk of the cost of virtually everything you buy represents money that ends up in government coffers at some level.

            1. Well there was an interesting study that found if the government had simply stopped adding regulations, laws and taxes in 1949, the average salary’s purchasing power would be in the neighborhood of $133,000 per year. And that’s not no taxes at all, that’s just keeping them at 1949 levels. I dare say that poverty as we know it would be extinct if not for the state.

        2. (Did I ever mention he’s Tony-level derp when it comes to politics and economics?)

          …and yet you managed to turn out…..fairly sane!

          1. I used to feel as he does. Then I learned to think.

            1. all those wasted years. think of the opportunity costs!

              1. Wasted is right.

        3. The invisible hand is the government taking its fair share whenever there is a transaction, without which society would not function.

          I don’t know how I’d be able to support my family if I weren’t getting mugged everyday on the way home from work. Makes sense.

          1. Gotta get some Fiscal Lube in there.

  5. “The reason we’re here is there are Asian gangs targeting these games”

    So why aren’t you targeting them? Oh, yeah: Officer Safety.

    1. Exactly. Asian gangs might shoot. Raiding the poker games first ensures that the coppers will get the money instead of getting shot.

      Makes total sense to a twisted statist.

      1. Some of the Asian gangs are probably paying off the right cops as well.

    2. In his hidden lair deep beneath Fairfax, Fu Manchu laughs.

  6. Its like there’s some sort of natural law that says that when the state tries to stop you from doing something ‘for your own good’ they end up causing more grief and trouble than the thing itself would have.

    1. I know. It’s uncanny.

    2. Something about cures that are worse than the illness.

      1. When government is involved that’s inevitable.

  7. Church bingo is next. Get ’em, boys!

  8. The gov’t must harm you to keep you from being harmed or harming yourself.

    1. That’s just sound science.

    2. +1 had to destroy the village to save it.

  9. why the cousin jokes? what if your cousin is REALLY hot?

    Seriously, first cousins, unless it is an oft repeated practice, pose little to no threat to the gene pool if they produce offspring. Why would you use that as a benchmark?

    Also, raiding a poker game is the dumbest thing ever.

    1. why the cousin jokes? what if your cousin is REALLY hot?

      Then crank it silently in the corner and don’t tell anyone.

    2. I did the 23andMe thing and I have some third cousins and we share like 1.6 percent of DNA. I don’t know how much first cousins share. I doubt it’s that much, since my sister and I share less than 50 percent of DNA.

      1. For perspective, keep in mind that human beings share 50% of our DNA with a banana.

        1. I learned something. I knew we shared DNA with primates, I didnt know where shared that much with plants.

          1. No small proportion of our DNA covers things like the creation of enzymes and so fourth, characteristics common to most life.

          2. We share a common ancestor with plants.

            1. Who is it? Warty?

            2. We share a common ancestor with plants.

              That’s right 6,000 years ago a monkey had sex with pond scum. Stoopid evolutionists! /refined creationist argument

  10. So,would they raid a golf course for guys playing skins?

    1. Not exactly the same thing as operating a casino.

      If the golf course owner were running book on the people playing, yes, they would get shut down so fast that heads would spin.

    2. Silly rabbit,

      Out in the open like that? There’s no element of surprise! AND THEY’RE ARMED WITH CLUBS? why would you ever consider endangering offers lives like that?

      No, that’s a case-study in why police departments need more Snipers.

  11. [A] regular player said the police told him, “The reason we’re here is there are Asian gangs targeting these games,”

    We’re here to protect you from the situation the government created.

    1. “The reason we’re here is there are Asian gangs targeting these games,”

      What is with “Asian Gangs” and the D.C. area? Every time the D.C. TV stations go into “sweeps week”….it’s Asian Gangs…..coming to your neighborhood NOW!

      1. it’s because asians are a safe “other” to target. they don’t often cry racism and they’re still very close to being foreigners regardless of where they were born.

        Historically, we have a history of portraying asian bad guys as animals, devils, etc.

        1. That, and the SJW crowd is all too happy to throw them under the bus whenever they stop being convenient, which is often.

      2. Haven’t you seed The Fast and the Furious? Those Asian gangs are dangerous!

        1. I beat you by a minute, punk.

          1. Nooooooo!!!
            *weeps into hands*

            1. Oh my god, oh my god. My poker game’s been robbed! I think it was an Asian gang or something. I saw someone, he look Asian….and he…. he was speaking another language. I’m pretty sure it was….Asian. / Fairfax County SWAT team dispatcher.

              1. Though I don’t suppose the dispatcher was hosting a poker game. Damn it I suck.

              2. Though I don’t suppose the dispatcher was hosting a poker game. Damn it I suck.

                1. Easy FS. No need to beat yourself up twice.

  12. I finally won my monthly poker game. Turns out the key to victory was not bringing a bottle of whiskey to the table and drinking it.

    1. …..No?!?! It can’t be that simple!

      1. The last game I was big stack head to head and had to forfeit because I couldn’t see my cards anymore. I might have over done it on the rye.

        1. Wow! Usually I’ll just puke all over the table, cards, chips, other players before I get to the “go blind” stage.

          Tip o the cap!

          1. Why thank you. *tips cap in return*

  13. I’ll bet 95% of the police precincts in this country run a Super Bowl pool.

  14. gamblers until a cop shot and killed optometrist Sal Culosi

    Sal? Oh no, not Big Sal!

  15. “The reason we’re here is there are Asian gangs targeting these games,”

    They have Asian gangs in Virginia?

    1. You’ve never been to Annandale (Korea town) apparently..

      1. H-Mart ftw!

        1. Hey H-Mart is the shiat. Now if I could just remember the big dim-sum place down in Rosslyn… Been a while since I lived in DC, I’m back in the ATL now.

  16. I thought legally poker wasn’t considered a “game of chance” because it involved skill (as opposed to blackjack or roulette). Am I wrong on that?

    1. It’s completely unsettled from a legal standpoint. Some judges have ruled it’s a game of chance, others have ruled it’s a game of skill, and some rulings have been overturned by superior courts.

      State laws vary widely about the legality of home game poker. But the instant you start taking a rake or charging a “house fee”, you’re basically running a casino out of your house. And rest assured, that is 100% illegal in every state, and you WILL get the hammer dropped on you as soon as Johnny Law catches wind of it.

      1. Judges that understand poker know that it is a game of skill.

        Only a profoundly ignorant person would argue that it is a game of chance. A poker hand involves quite a bit of chance; a poker game, not so much.

        Just about every time I play poker, I can spot one guy at the table who will get busted if he doesn’t leave within an hour or so. He almost always gets busted. Despite what the player might think, his bust-out had very little to do with luck.

    2. One thing however that is settled law thanks to Baxter v. United States is that professional gamblers are only legally obligated to pay federal income tax on their NET gambling winnings for the year.

      In other words, if a full-time player on the circuit wins $150K in tournament prize money for the year, but spent $90K in tournament entry fees, legally he only has to pay taxes on $60K (I’m simplifying it a little, but that’s the basic gist).

  17. ” “They could’ve sent a retired detective with a clipboard and gotten the same result,””

    Uh, I don’t think “retired detective” provides the sweet overtime and dangerous-duty pay to all the SWAT team members that ‘raids’ do.

  18. In true criminal fashion, the Fairfax county government wanted their cut.

  19. Up to I looked at the check for $4922 , I didnt believe that…my… friend was truly bringing in money parttime from there pretty old laptop. . there great aunt haz done this for under thirteen months and a short time ago paid for the dept on there cottage and bought a gorgeous Honda .
    have a peek at this web-site ????????? http://www.jobsfish.com

  20. Start a new lucrative career. Our firm is looking for 10 people to represent our services?.
    You will have business coming to you on a daily basis
    Check Here Don’t Miss Golden Chance
    .
    read review ?????? http://www.netpay20.com

  21. The laws are exactly backwards. Private gambling should be legal, and state lotteries should be banned.

  22. We’d all be better off if the police would focus on crimes that have actual victims.

  23. Well shit i better hire a look out for this years fantasy football draft …sure it will happen eventually money changing hands without consent of the king and his council

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.