Police serve search warrant at local business for illegal gambling
By LYNETTE SOWELL
Officers with the Copperas Cove Police Department and the Bell County Organized Crime Unit served a search warrant at The Parlor at Five Hills, located at Suite 3 of 181 W. Bus. on Friday.
In a press release issued by the CCPD on Friday, Sgt. Kevin Miller stated an investigation began after the department received a tip from a concerned citizen that The Parlor at Five Hills was operating illegally. After the investigation confirmed the information, a search warrant was executed on Friday afternoon
At that time, 14 individuals were inside the business along with one employee. Miller said the investigation is ongoing and appropriate charges will be filed upon its conclusion.
This isn’t the first time officers have paid a visit to the establishment.
Back in August 2017, The Parlor At Five Hills, along with seven other similar “sweepstakes gaming rooms” in Copperas Cove, were issued cease and desist letters to halt operations within 15 days.
The other businesses were Gold Rush, Shamrock, Cove Internet Café, KT Amusements, Longhorn Café, Surf and Sip, and Hometown Sweepstakes.
At that time, Sgt. Steve O’Neal said that in lieu of making arrests, they would issue the warnings and it also wasn’t a covert operation.
“We didn’t go in and undercover gamble, nothing like that,” O’Neal said, when interviewed in August. “We went in and asked, ‘How do you guys work?’ Because, that’s what I needed to know. So they told me how they worked, and I told them it was illegal.”
As far as bingo halls go, O’Neal called bingo halls “a whole different animal in and of itself” and that the problem with sweepstakes/gaming rooms is they try to represent themselves as sweepstakes, when their operations are not how legal sweepstakes are run.
“In order to be a sweepstakes, you have to sell a product. Like McDonald’s or Coca-Cola, they have their Monopoly game and Coke has you look under the cap to win. But not one of these places sells a product. They’re trying to say that they’re ‘selling’ a donation, which is illegal. You can’t sell a donation.”
Last year saw five sweepstakes/gaming rooms open in Copperas Cove.
It has been almost one year since O’Neal made a presentation to the Copperas Cove city council about gaming establishments within the city, with the council directing the CCPD to work on proposed changes to the city ordinance where gaming facilities are concerned.
The impact the establishments have on crime is an increase in aggravated robberies, thefts, burglaries, property damage, narcotics as well as other things not reported, O’Neal said at that meeting. For example, in March 2017, the Gold Rush internet cafe on S. 2nd St, had two incidents with burglary and theft, with over $7,000 stolen. That business, along with the others, have remained closed.