Police, FBI probe gambling operation at business

More than 40 people participated in illegal poker games, the detective said.
WARREN -- City police and the FBI continue to investigate what they are calling an illegal gambling operation, after a raid of a Warren business over the weekend.
Warren officers and members of the FBI's Youngstown office raided Cox Contracting Inc., 715 Woodland St. S.E., at 1:05 a.m. Saturday where authorities said they found about 13 people participating in an illegal game of Texas hold'em poker.
No one was arrested but the investigation is continuing, city Detective Jeff Hoolihan said.
Police believe that between 40 to 50 players had participated in the games at Cox, which had been going on since May, Hoolihan said. The games were being played on Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.
Attempts to contact the Cox owners were not successful Monday.
Police also seized more than 15,000 in cash, two poker tables, several cards and chips and other gambling paraphernalia.
Texas hold'em is the most popular card game in U.S. casinos. In recent years, it has gained popularity through nationally televised tournaments such as "The World Series of Poker" on ESPN.
Here's the law
Under Ohio law, most home games of Texas hold'em are not illegal unless organizers are taking money from the pot or asking participants to pay to play the game. Both of those things were happening at the poker games at Cox, Hoolihan said.
The organizers of the tournaments were taking a cut of the winnings, and participants were required to pay 100 per night to play from 7 to 9 p.m., or 200 per night to play after 9 p.m.
Although police were tipped off about the poker games in May, it took six months of combined effort by the FBI and Warren officials to prepare for the raid, Hoolihan said.
Hoolihan stressed that the investigation is not over and police plan to interview all the players to glean as much information as possible.
Meanwhile, police are investigating other illegal gambling operations in Warren, Hoolihan said.
"Obviously, we can't talk about that because those things are still under investigation," he said.

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