An illegal American poker room was raided over the weekend by the FBI assisted by a massive team of more than 100 police officers. The poker den was hidden away in the basement of a convenience store called Duke’s Place, located in the West End district of Cincinnati, Ohio.
The raid was the result of a four-month investigation into the operation. Duke’s Place looked and operated like a legitimate business, but a back-alley entrance led players down into a well-organized poker den running high-stakes gams worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.
During a search of the premises, police confiscated an unknown quantity of guns, a stash of dugs including marijuana and cocaine, and more than a million dollars in cash and stolen goods.
“It’s been operating for several years,” said Lieutenant Colonel Vincent Demasi of the Cincinnati Police. “It’s been a constant source of complaints from the neighborhood.”
So far, 16 people ages 23 to 79 have been detained in connection with the operation. Store owner Derek Ragan was arrested from his Price Hill home shortly after the raid, and is being held on a quarter million dollar bond. Ragan faces charges related to gun violations, operating a gambling house, and money laundering. According to some sources, Ragan has also been linked to other crimes, including homicide.
The state of Ohio recently passed legislation legalizing poker and casino gambling, but the games going on in the basement of Duke’s Place were not operating in accordance with American gambling laws.
For the time being, players looking for an alternative to illegal underground poker games can consider playing at online poker sites in the US. While internet gambling is not currently licensed and regulated by the US government, there are dozens of sites operating out of other countries where US players can sign up and participate in high-stakes cash tables and online poker tournaments.