By CLINT FOSTER
The numbers are in.
Following a mass raid of illegal gambling operations in Mineral Wells and Possum Kingdom, Palo Pinto law enforcement hit the virtual jackpot, seizing $45,155 and 160 computers used in unlawful wagers, according to Palo Pinto County Sheriff Ira Mercer. As of Friday, the county was still not done counting all of the cash and gambling equipment they seized.
“It’s obvious that it’s a profitable deal and that’s why people choose to do it, regardless of whether or not it’s legal,” Mercer said. “I guess they think the risk is worth the reward.”
The PPSO simultaneously conducted search warrants at eight locations Thursday with the help of the Mineral Wells Police Department, county constables and Texas Department of Public Safety troopers, computer forensics specialists and undercover officers.
The location formally known as Cowboys Internet Cafe, Wildkat Sweepstakes, Tri 7 Sweeps, Mineral Wells Sweeps, the Brazos Lounge, Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 2399 and the American Legion were all busted in Mineral Wells along with Longhorn Smokes and Stuff at Possum Kingdom Lake. Three arrests were also made in Mineral Wells: two at Wildkat for possession of drug paraphernalia and one at Tri 7 for possession of methamphetamine, between 1 and 4 grams.
Customers gambled at these locations on computers, in the form of sweepstakes-type gambling. Mercer explained this type of gambling functions basically like virtual lottery tickets. Wildkat, Mineral Wells Sweeps, Cowboys and Tri 7 were all store fronts that functioned exclusively for the purpose of this type of gambling. Conversely, Longhorn and Brazos Lounge were more hybrid locations and gambling was not the sole activity. This was also the case at the VFW and American Legion. But the long arm of the law did not discriminate. When asked why the veterans’ organizations were involved in the busts, Mercer had this to say.