Councilman Bob Blumenfield introduced a motion Wednesday to address what he called the proliferation of illegal gambling in Los Angeles.
In 2018, the Los Angeles Police Department executed 12 search warrants for illegal casinos, and the following year that number rose to 48 warrants, which uncovered connections to gangs, illicit drugs and prostitution, Blumenfield said.
“These are not friendly weekend poker games. These are full-fledged illegal casinos fixed with gambling machines, many of which with deep ties to local and international organized crime syndicates,” Blumenfield said. “We need to get a handle on this now to shut them down.”
On a San Fernando Valley raid earlier this year that was covered by FOX 11, LAPD found a crime scene with security protocols including a steel-framed door with a magnetic lock set in concrete. Before law enforcement could enter, organizers of the casino cut their computers’ link to a server in Eastern Europe controlling all the finances.
The problem has continued unabated during the COVID-19 pandemic in violation of gathering rules and business operating limits, Blumenfield said.
The councilman’s motion directs city departments to explore proactive measures to deter commercial property owners from leasing to operators of gambling establishments and to incentivize them to terminate leases when illegal activity becomes known.
This serves a dual purpose of eliminating gambling dens and providing tools other than LAPD enforcement, Blumenfield said.
The motion also asks the Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety, in consultation with the Department of City Planning, Department of Water and Power and the LAPD, to report back within 60 days on tools that could be adopted to deter and civilly punish operation of illegal gambling establishments.
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