Two San Antonio Women Arrested For Running Illegal Gambling Den After Three Years of Surveillance

Posted on: July 15, 2019, 04:00h. 

Last updated on: July 19, 2021, 03:05h.

Two San Antonio women were arrested Saturday night on charges of, among other things, running an illegal gambling establishment.

The inside of an illegal gambling den in San Antonio that was raided Saturday. (Image: KSAT)

The Bexar County Sherriff’s Office (BCSO), the law enforcement agency with jurisdiction over the Alamo City, arrested the women after monitoring the establishment for three years.

The agency has known about it (the gaming venue) for about three years,” said Sheriff Javier Salazar in footage posted to BCSO’s Facebook page. “We just recently started working an undercover operation on it not too long ago and got enough information, which led to the warrant.”

That warrant was served late Saturday night, July 13 by BCSO’s narcotics and covert operations unit.

One of the women arrested, Tammy Rae Tankersley, is being charged with three misdemeanors and one felony count of possession of a controlled substance, according to a document provided to by the BCSO.

The misdemeanor charges for Tankersley, 48, include keeping a gambling place, possession of a gambling device, and promoting an unlawful gaming establishment.

Salazar said that when BCSO deputies raided the property, there “were a couple dozen patrons inside” and that they will be cited with illegal gambling, a Class A misdemeanor in Texas.

Tough Texas Laws

The Lone Star State has some of the strictest gambling laws in the US. A byproduct of the state’s tough anti-gambling stance is a lack of legitimate gaming venues, potentially creating fertile ground for illegal enterprises, such as the one that was broken up in San Antonio on Saturday night.

On land, Texas has no more than a pair of small tribal gaming properties where gaming machines are permitted, but the state has been the birthplace of some of the largest illegal sports wagering rings in US history.

Currently, the Alabama-Coushatta tribe is fighting state officials to keep open a bingo hall it started in East Texas three years ago. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton wants the Polk County property shuttered and for the tribe to pay over $10 million in fines, but bipartisan support is emerging to help the tribe keep the Naskila gaming hall in business.

Some gaming entities have vested interests in keeping gambling offerings sparse in the Lone Star state. Golden Nugget owner Tilman Fertitta, Chickasaw Nation, and Choctaw Nation have been significant contributors to Texas politicians’ campaigns in recent years. Fertitta and those two tribes own casinos in Louisiana and Oklahoma, two states that border Texas.

Trust Issues

Illicit gambling establishments are often highly selective about the patrons they allow inside, explaining why it took BCSO three years to topple the San Antonio gaming site.

“The issue with a lot of these locations is it’s difficult getting in,” said Salazar. “They’re very exclusive about who they let in, not very trusting of who they let in.”

The name of the gaming venue was withheld, but it was located along the 16000 Block of FM 1937 in San Antonio. Salazar described the building’s exterior as rundown, but said on the inside, there were wall-to-wall, brightly lit slot machines.

By BCSO estimates, there were a couple of dozen slot machines there and deputies worked through the night to open the devices and seize the cash found inside.