Mineral Wells Index, Mineral Wells, TX

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September 11, 2013

Gambling-device raid leaves some questioning

(Continued)

“We’re really thorough at the legion making sure everything we do is above board,” he said. “We’ve got a long-standing reputation in this town and we’re not going to knowingly do anything illegal that would adversely effect the reputation of our post and our members.

“All of a sudden, supposedly something happened that made [sweepstakes machines] illegal. I would think if the law is changed, you’re obligated to tell someone that the law has changed. We never heard a word from anybody.”

As Christy’s anger festered toward those responsible for the raid, VFW Commander Jim Bransom’s sentiment was one primarily of “total confusion.” Like Christy, Bransom said he was never told that the sweepstakes machines at his post were declared illegal nor does he understand all of the details of the attorney general’s decision.

“I’m not exactly sure how this came down. I know this has been months and months of investigation,” he said. “If the machines are illegal, then they’re illegal. If they would have just come and said something... the VFW would have had them out the next day.

“These machines have been in the VFW a long, long time. When I drive by the police station and there’s a business set up with these same type machines right across the street, I kind of thought they were on the up and up.”

Bransom was referring to Tri 7 Sweeps, one of the many businesses hit in the raid, and one of four exclusively set up for the purpose of illegal gambling.

Despite Christy and Bransom’s protestations, Palo Pinto Sheriff Ira Mercer said that all of the venues involved in the raid were given ample warning.

“I know for sure it’s been communicated by either my office or the PD to every one of these venues that this was coming,” he said. “I’ve had discussions with the VFW, not the American Legion, just telling them we don’t think that this is legal and we advised them against it. But I’ve been told that the PD absolutely told them that it was not kosher. I didn’t tell them that, but I’ve been told that the PD warned them of this. I’m certainly sorry that they feel that way, but there’s nothing I can do about it.”

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