San Fernando Police Raid Illegal Gambling Business — Investigation Continues

The investigation is continuing after an unlicensed gambling business that was brazenly set up at a busy shopping area at 801 S.Workman was raided Friday, May 1, by the San Fernando Police Department and the state gambling authorities.

The gambling operation was set up in a store front, close to a Vallarta supermarket where there is much foot traffic, but it had no visible signage. It was easy to drive by without knowing that it was there.

Only a “For Lease” sign was outside the business, which appeared to be thriving — likely through word of mouth. According to some in the community, it was advertised online as legal “Sweepstakes slot machines,” and solicited as a good opportunity for people to open up these kinds of ventures.

But on May 1, with the trademark gambling bells ringing, it wasn’t so lucky for those at the location during the time of the afternoon raid. Police arrested one person and detained about 25 customers giving them citations for illegal gambling.

Customers told the (italics) San Fernando Valley Sun/El Sol (italics end) that those who ran the business reassured them that the games were a “legal lottery.”

The raid was conducted jointly by the California Department of Justice Gaming Unit and the City of San Fernando Police Department, who were tipped off to the location by local residents. Police Chief Tony Vairo said after investigating this operation over recent months, the police obtained a search warrant.

They arrested one person and detained several customers.

“It was a pretty sophisticated operation and quite a setup that they had,” Vairo said.

“We seized 50 gambling stations, computers, equipment and currency. We collected a lot of evidence. We also had code enforcement come in, and we were able to shut them down. We want to make sure that they aren’t coming back.”

Vairo said the investigation is ongoing. He said that it is “challenging” for the state to keep up with businesses like these that pop up.