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State Gambling Control Agents Shut Down Illegal Gambling Operation

Atwater Bar Owner Charged With Running Illegal Poker Tournaments
Thursday, February 3, 2005
Contact: (415) 703-5837

(SACRAMENTO) – Attorney General Bill Lockyer today announced that an Atwater man was arrested Wednesday, February 2, for operating an illegal Texas Hold'em Poker Tournament pursuant to a two-month investigation and sting operation by the Attorney General's Division of Gambling Control.

Miguel A. Duran, 35, who owns and operates the "Out of Bounds" sports bar located at 575 E. Bellavue in Atwater, was arrested for allowing his bar to be used as an unlicenced cardroom to operate large-scale illegal poker games.

Since last December, special agents from the Division of Gambling Control and Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) investigators observed and regularly played in these illegal poker tournaments, which occurred every Wednesday night. Participants paid $20 to enter the tournament and were given a specific amount of poker chips to use in the tournament. All players would participate in the tournament until there was only one winner. Money was awarded to the first, second and third place player in the tournament.

Yesterday, special agents again went undercover and arrested Duran for illegally operating a controlled game, "Texas Hold'em", without a state license. The case has been referred to the Merced County District Attorney's Office.

ABC investigators also cited an 18-year old underage male for the misdemeanor of illegally entering and remaining in a bar without a lawful purpose. Duran was also cited for allowing the minor to be in his bar.

ABC will file an administrative accusation against Duran's license alleging violations of state laws prohibiting the purchase of alcoholic beverages from an unauthorized licensee and the acceptance of free goods. These violations could lead to a fine, suspension or revocation of Duran's license.

Under California law, any person or business that operates a gambling operation must be licensed with the Division of Gambling Control. However, it is legal to play card games for money in private homes where no person makes money for operating the game.

The Atwater Police Department also assisted in the investigation.

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