Suspects in custody, gambling machines recovered after police search illegal 'slap house' in OC

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Thursday, September 15, 2022
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Police cracking down on illegal gambling dens sounds like something out of the Prohibition Era, but that's what happened in Westminster this week.

WESTMINSTER, Calif. (KABC) -- Police cracking down on illegal gambling dens sounds like something out of the Prohibition Era, but that's what happened in Westminster this week.

One such warrant was served at a home in the city on Wednesday, which resulted in six people being taken into custody and seven large gambling machines being recovered. Charges could now be pending against those individuals.

"This is not one of those instances where a couple officers can walk up and knock on a door," said Commander Kevin McCormick.

Cmdr. McCormick said their department is done playing games when it comes to illegal gambling establishments, also known as "slap houses," within city limits.

"These 'slap houses' are a huge issue in the city," he said. "Any given time we have six to eight slap houses operating in our city."

On Wednesday, multiple agencies displayed their force as West County SWAT and other officers moved in on an alleged "slap house" in the 14600 block of Wakefield Street.

McCormick said these illegal casinos can be found in homes and businesses across Orange County. He said they drive in other problems.

"With any kind of criminal element you have associated dangers. There's the risk of firearms, there's a risk of felons running these establishments. That's why the SWAT team is called in to serve these warrants," he said.

He added the illegal gambling dens can often go unnoticed so it's important that residents lookout for and report anything that looks out of place.

"If somebody sees something that they're not sure that they think might be suspicious, call us," McCormick said.

Westminster police said it takes investigators weeks to build their case into a single "slap house," which requires a lot of hours and manpower.

The Wakefield operation was successful and no law enforcement officers were injured, officials said.