Pomona police raid suspected illegal casino, seize cash, detains dozens of patrons

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Pomona police detained at least 40 people after raiding a suspected unlicensed casino at a strip mall early Thursday morning, confiscating drugs, cash and firearms, authorities said.

Pomona police served the search warrant at a building in the 600 block of West Indian Hill Drive before sunrise, around 5 a.m., said Aly Mejia, police spokesperson.

Officers found a quarter-pound of methamphetamine and two firearms, as well as cash, which was described by police as “a large amount.”

The Los Angeles County district attorney’s office dispatched 18 officers to assist in the raid, primarily for handling paperwork to process arrests. But the people detained at the raid were later released without charges or citations, Mejia said.

Away from the strip mall, authorities later arrested one individual in the neighboring San Bernardino County city of Chino on charges connected to the gambling operation, police said. The individual, who is on probation for a grand theft charge from last year, was held on a no-bail warrant, according to court records.

News broadcasts of the raid show aerial images of people sitting along a curb, their hands cuffed behind their backs, next to a building at the end of the strip mall with a for lease sign. The building previously housed a Zumba fitness gym and before that a women’s clothing store.

California does allow some forms of gambling, including tribal casinos operating on Native reservations, as well as the operation of licensed cardrooms, which run games like poker. However, in 1996, California put a moratorium on issuing new cardroom licenses. As of 2021, there were 86 active cardroom licenses in the state, according to a San Diego Union-Tribune report. The moratorium lasts until 2023.

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