Local News

All Bets Off at Illegal Gambling Operation

Posted September 10, 2007

— Betting ended permanently at an illegal gambling establishment in Johnston County after a raid by authorities on Saturday.

Alcohol Law Enforcement agents executed a search warrant at a single-story, white, wood-frame building at 156 Bear Road, off N.C. Highway 242 in a rural area near Benson. The Johnston County Sheriff's Office and state Highway patrol assisted.

Officers arrested 71 people, including property owner Marvin Ray Johnson, and confiscated more than $70,000 from what officials described as a large, sophisticated operation that drew gamblers from out-of-state.

"It was a fairly large operation for North Carolina. It was basically a mini-casino," Ron Kaylor, ALE's deputy director for operations, said Monday. "This is the first one I've seen in my 20 years like this."

Investigators also seized a craps table, a roulette wheel and blackjack and poker tables. The establishment even had a fully staffed kitchen to feed gamblers, investigators said.

Agents said they found professional gamblers from other states during the raid. The ongoing investigation could continue to net more arrests, Kaylor said.

"There was a link with the Internet that could possibly be linked with other sites in North Carolina or the nation," he said.

All 71 people arrested face misdemeanor gambling charges. Johnson faces additional charges for operating a gambling facility.

ALE sought a search warrant after it received numerous complaints and conducted its own undercover investigation.

According to the search warrant, complainants said the building was used for a number of poker games, such as Texas Hold 'Em, blackjack and roulette. The establishment hosted several big tournaments a year, with large amounts of money bet and 40 to 50 people participating in the games, complainants said in the search warrant.

An undercover ALE agent claimed to have seen illegal gambling going on and described the establishment as "a small casino." The agent also claimed to overhear card dealers "telling patrons they would try not to take all of their money," according to the search warrant.

Donnie McLamb, who lives nearby, said he had heard rumors about possible gambling at the building but was surprised at the extent of what authorities found.

"I've never been in there, so I wouldn't know, but they've never caused any trouble up here that I know of, not in the neighborhood, they haven't," McLamb said. "They kind of kept it low key."

North Carolina has recently seen an increasing number of raids on illegal gambling operations.

In January, Lee County deputies deputies raided Kendale Service Center at 1507 S. Horner Blvd. and confiscated eight cases of poker chips, cards, poker tables, $275 in cash, an illegal slot machine and bottles of liquor.

In May, Buncombe County deputies raided an underground casino in the back of a Candler convenience store and seized nine video-poker machines.

In early August, Operation Empty Pockets netted 64 video-poker machines from more than 60 locations, including many private homes.

36 Comments

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  • JonahB Sep 11, 9:54 a.m.

    To the Cakelady: I really enjoyed the spice cake that you made, it was great. Probably won't be long until I get another slice, lol.

  • EGH3 Sep 11, 9:25 a.m.

    The ALE offices should bust the house her in Dunn,every friday night they have all along the roads pack and we wont something done about it.

  • dhoggard2 Sep 11, 9:05 a.m.

    I wouldn't say Gambling is Gambling. Nothing close, or these places woudn't exist. playing the lotto is a far cry from playing blackjack or sitting at a roulette table and far less addictive. NC is running these games or a sports book that I'm aware of yet. There is a difference and anyone who gambles knows it. I do think there's a fine line though. There are a lot of public officials who have poker night.. guess they probably got warned not to be there that night though hugh? Surprised the Gov himself wasn't there.

  • dhoggard2 Sep 11, 9:03 a.m.

    I wouldn't say Gambling is Gambling. Nothing close, or these places woudn't exist. playing the lotto is a far cry from playing blackjack or sittd_text=I wouldn't say Gambling is Gambling. Nothing close, or these places woudn't exist. playing the lotto is a far cry from playing blackjack or sitting at a roulette table and far less addictive. NC is running these games or a sports book that I'm aware of yet. There is a difference and anyone who gambles knows it. I do think there's a fine line though. There are a lot of public officials who have poker n

  • Funky Neighbor LEE Sep 11, 8:47 a.m.

    re: "North Carolina has recently seen an increasing number of raids on illegal gambling operations"

    Of coarse Government enforcement is going to increase, it's like the Mob, (Gov), protecting their Lottery turf and forcing out other competing gambling businesses.

  • raptor101 Sep 11, 8:34 a.m.

    whats the big deal about an organized game? last I checked we were adults...

    I don't play, but I think it is absurd to say people can't organize games

  • lovecarolinagutters Sep 11, 7:51 a.m.

    Wonder why WRAL didn't mention the raid on the gambling house on Johnson Street in Cary that occured several months ago. I have a friend who's husband gambles ALL their money away, has for years. This is a real problem but, with the State having a lottery ie: gambling, it seems kinda silly to say some gambling is ok, some not. Gambling is gambling.

  • gopanthers Sep 11, 7:32 a.m.

    It amazes me how Law Enforcement jumps right into situations like this head first without batting an eyelash when there are real fish to fry like when it it comes to our Hispanic problem(I'm not going to use that other word I'll get deleted) - Nothing Nothing Nothing.

  • mrtwinturbo Sep 11, 6:12 a.m.

    confiscated more than $70,000 from what officials described as a large, sophisticated operation that drew gamblers from out-of-state..........Sorry but this was a small time operaton compared to many of the poker houses in the state, I know of quite a few more that have stakes of more than a half million dollars, one if which is in Rocky Mount. And another in Greenville right down the road from the Lottery office.

  • shine Sep 11, 2:36 a.m.

    wheelers: that is up close and personal.

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