Mercer told the Index on Thursday that the American Legion and VFW were included in the raid because if they were going to hit one illegal gambling operation, they would be best served to “take care of all of it at once.” Furthermore given what Mercer understood to be ample warning, there was no excuse for any of the raided venues to be practicing illegal gambling with the mindset that they would not be included in the punishment.
In the wake of last week’s events it would appear that something might have gotten lost in translation in the months before the raid. The Index reached out to Mineral Wells City Manager Lance Howerton and the MWPD to see if they provided any warning of the illegality of sweepstakes gambling machines. The answer was a surprising “no.”
“We did not alert anyone to that effect, be it the VFW, American Legion or any of the others. I’m not aware of anybody that told them,” Howerton said. “There’s certainly precedents that these types of facilities have been closed down in other locations. Certainly there was some press given to some of the court rulings that have come out. But did we actually alert them to that effect? No, we did not. As far as I know that was not done.”
In addition to feeling as though their posts were raided without any supposed warning, Christy and Brasnom are also upset because they claimed the revenue generated from their machines was used for positive purposes. Christy said his post frequently made charitable donations to organizations such as Meals on Wheels and the Mineral Wells Senior Center. Bransom also said all of the money that came through the machines was used to run the VFW and for other charitable purposes.
“I know there were some issues with the other establishments, but everything that came through the VFW was for the community,” he said.