Florida’s Seminole County Casino Raids Lead to 18 Arrests, Operations Shuttered

Posted on: December 9, 2021, 08:01h. 

Last updated on: December 9, 2021, 10:04h.

Deputies on Wednesday raided eight allegedly illegal gaming properties in Florida’s Seminole County, with 18 suspects charged. If convicted, each arrestee could face several years in prison.

Charges include racketeering
One of the allegedly illegal casinos raided this week in Seminole County, Florida, pictured above. Eighteen suspects were charged. (Image: WOFL)

The individuals were charged with counts of racketeering, keeping a house of gaming, delivering gaming machines, and running an illegal lottery. The illegal operations were also shut down.

Seventeen of the suspects were in custody Wednesday in the John Polk Correctional Facility. They were being held without bond. Most reside outside of Seminole County.

The “overwhelming majority of them have operated establishments like this in the past,” Seminole County Sheriff Dennis Lemma told Clickorlando.com, a regional news site.

None of the individuals were prosecuted previously, he added.

The investigation launched in May following the sheriff’s office getting a tip from Crimeline, Clickorlando.com said.

Gambling Dens in Disguise

The casinos were operating “in a clandestine type of environment” in eight locations, Lemma said. Three were in Altamonte Springs, two in Sanford, one in Casselberry, and one in unincorporated Seminole County.

Many of the dens were set up in strips plazas and had no distinguishing signs or were disguised as other business. In one case, a den was disguised as a pawn shop. Another was marked as a billiard hall, according to Lemma.

It seemed like these establishments operated similar to speakeasies. If you were a customer, you could not gain access unless the operators inside knew you. Individuals had to be buzzed in and out.

However, players said when they tried to get their payout, they were not able to receive the money that was owed to them, Lemma added.

Targetting Seniors

Beyond that, Lemma was quoted by the Orlando Sentinel that many of the players were living on a “fixed income.”

Many were seniors. None of the players was arrested.