Corpus Christi Gambling Raid Leads to Eight Arrests, $85K Seized

Posted on: January 15, 2024, 08:40h. 

Last updated on: January 15, 2024, 11:52h.

Several people were charged after Corpus Christi, Texas, police officers raided a lounge last week, uncovering a gambling operation.

Police cars are parked at Players Lounge in Corpus Christi
Police cars are parked at Players Lounge in Corpus Christi, Texas. Several people were charged after a raid for illegal gambling. (Image: KRIS)

The officers inspected the Players Lounge Game Room during the court-ordered search, resulting in the seizure of gambling devices, more than $85K in cash, a vehicle, and suspected marijuana.

Police stopped three suspects in the game room, which describes itself as a video arcade.

Money Laundering Arrests

Brandon Roe, 23, Mallory Villarreal, 30, and Jillian Dunnahoo, 22, each were charged with gambling promotion, keeping a gambling place, possession of a gambling device, engaging in organized criminal activity, and money laundering, according to Corpus Christi TV station KRIS.

In addition, police cited five people who were inside the game room at the time of the raid for a gambling charge.

In a statement following Thursday’s raid, Corpus Christi police explained that it’s illegal for game rooms to pay out cash rewards. Players, as well as those who operate the joint, can be charged, police said.

The raid was approved by a local judge who was presented with evidence by local prosecutors following an investigation of suspicious activity at the game room.

Prior Raids

Last week’s raid followed a court-ordered search last April of two other alleged gambling operations in Corpus Christi. In that raid of two Prime Time game rooms, more than 80 people were given citations, and another 13, who were employees, were arrested.

Police seized gambling devices and some $370K in cash, according to news reports.

“You go to a swimming pool to go swim,” Corpus Christi Police Lt. Michael Pena told local TV station KIII last year. “You go to a gambling establishment to go gamble. It’s an illegal establishment.”

Local news report explained that new game room regulations took effect on Jan. 3, 2023. Game room operations require a permit and must meet other requirements. Many activities remain restricted or illegal.

Having a permit does not excuse you from engaging in illegal gambling and you can still be arrested and charged with multiple crimes,” Corpus Christi Assistant Police Chief Todd Green told KIII last January.

It was not immediately known what happened to the charges and citations of the suspects apprehended during the raids.

More serious gambling charges can lead to prison sentences that can result in years behind bars. Citations lead to less severe penalties.

Meanwhile, Texas legislators are expected in future years to consider legislation to allow for destination casinos to open up in the state. Commercial casinos are currently prohibited under Texas law. Several powerful politicians remain opposed to opening destination casinos in the state though other legislators and casino companies are advocating for changes in the laws. Prior bills have been defeated,