Illegal gambling in Rusk County, three gambling halls closed, machines seized

RUSK COUNTY, Texas (KETK) — Slot machines: harmless in theory but illegal under certain conditions.

“It’s not illegal to possess it,” Rusk County Sheriff Johnwayne Valdez said. “You can have one in your house anytime, but you’re just playing a game. Where it becomes a problem is that you charge money to do it. Do you allow them to play.

Three illegal gambling halls in Rusk County are now closed because of slot machines being used for gambling. For the gambling hall to operate legally, there is no way they could profit from it. Sheriff Valdez explains the law in more detail.

“The house can’t take a cut. If you and I are playing at someone else’s house and we’re playing poker, if you have a hundred dollars in the pot and the house takes $10 of it, that’s illegal,” Valdez said.

Some of the machines in these casinos were older and bulkier from the 1980s and 90s, while others were more high-tech and easier to handle in favor of the house.

“They’re taking a cut of that money, otherwise this business wouldn’t be open because they wouldn’t be making any money. They’re not doing this out of the goodness of their hearts,” Valdez said.

Many of these gambling halls would hide their income as donations and even list fake charities.

“Call it what you want. If you pay cash, it’s illegal,” Valdez added.

Sheriff Valdez said there was often more than gambling at these facilities.

“There are several instances where drugs are also being sold or used in these casinos, but the number of non-gambling crimes is what really pushes us to look at them a little more carefully,” Valdez explained.

Sheriff Valdez said two people were arrested but have since bonded. The Rusk County Sheriff’s Office is in the process of closing a fourth site, but is still investigating at this time.