The Vice and Narcotics Division of Norfolk has charged four men for running an illegal poker business that was making around $2,000 per night.

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The police received a tip in December that a house at Shorewood Place in Woodbine was running an illegal poker business. According to police informants, Texas Hold’em games began in the house at 8:00 p.m. every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday and sometimes lasted all night. The lowest buy-in for these games was $100.

The police then sent an undercover agent to the house, and the officer entered the venue as a player one March night, at around 11:00 p.m. The undercover agent was accompanied by an informant because the house offered a bonus of $40 each to customers who brought friends as well as their friends.

The venue had two poker tables with around 25 players at each. The undercover agent purchased chips worth $140 and began playing the game. He went bust after one hour. He purchased more chips, but could not continue playing as he lost contact with his colleagues who were doing surveillance nearby.

Two weeks later, the officer returned and noted that the house offered security services, special staff, and various perks for high-stakes players. An SUV was used to chauffeur customers who left their cars at an apartment complex for senior citizens nearby. The house also employed women as waitresses and security guards wearing bullet-proof vests to guard the grounds and entrances of the house. Besides, surveillance cameras were placed all over the house. The house also provided facilities for players to smoke marijuana and sold DVDs and cigarettes to poker customers.

The police studied the situation for several months, with the undercover agent returning to the house as a poker player several times in July and early August. Finally on August 9, the police arrested 37-year-old Ryan Andrew James and 58-year-old Robert Michael Foster and charged them with the felony of running an illegal gambling outfit. They also charged Foster for transporting and selling alcohol illegally and for illegal possession of firearms.

According to Cynthia Hall, the deputy city attorney, the police have charged two other associates of Foster—Kevin McLaughlin and Blake Jenkins—on several counts. The police have confiscated all the gambling equipment in the house, including chips, computers, poker tables, surveillance cameras, paperwork, rifles, shotguns, and handguns. Dealers who were on duty the night of the raid have also been charged.

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