Los Angeles City Council to Address Rising “Slaphouse” Problem

Councilman Bob Blumefield has introduced a new motion in the Los Angeles City Council to explore new ways the activities of illegal gamblers and so-called “slaphouses” can be curbed in the city. The popular “Fish Hunter” genre of arcade games is the prevalent game in these gambling dens in Los Angeles. The game is popular in China, Japan, and Korea.

The motion brought forward by the councilman aims at working closely with landlords in the city. Direction has been given to city departments to find ways of stopping landlords from leasing their properties for such. Landlords will be required to immediately terminate such leases, the instant infractions are uncovered.

According to Blumenfield, “These are not friendly weekend poker games. These are full-fledged illegal casinos fixed with gambling machines, many of which with deep ties to local and international organized crime syndicates. We need to get a handle on this now to shut them down.”

The name “slaphouse” apparently came from the sound made while patrons of illegal gambling are bashing the buttons on the arcade. Slaphouses are becoming more rampant in Los Angeles and other parts of the state. They are more commonly seen in areas where retail gambling has taken a downturn. They do a lot to mask their true operation as it is mostly found in places looking like vacant storefronts and sometimes, the signage of the legal business that previously occupied the building will remain.

You will not find your regular slot machines if you take a peek inside such places. The machines are popularly found in some Asian countries like Japan, Korea, and China.

An arcade-style “fishing game” as described by the authorities, is what has been frequently been recovered after police raids. These arcades are built into the table and feature titles like King of Treasure, Dragon Hunter, and Ocean King in the “Fish Hunter” game genre. They have been in existence for over fifteen years in Asia but has only gained popularity in American slaphouses. Information from their website suggests that these particular titles being recovered from raids are made and distributed by various companies based in China.

Slaphouses with European Ties?

Blumfield has stated that the activities of slaphouses are linked to an increase in crime, most likely gang activity, prostitution, and hard drugs sale. In 2019, the LAPD executed a 300 percent increase of search warrants for illegal gambling compared to the previous year. The total number stood at 48.

On nine separate raids executed by the LAPD’s Valley Bureau last year, FOX 11 was fortunate to ride along. It was revealed that the finances and servers of illegal casinos – slaphouses – in the San Fernando Valley were controlled by criminals in Eastern Europe.

Blumfield has requested that strategies and tools to deter gambling operators from setting up shop in abandoned storefronts should be looked into by the Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety. That should be done in consultation with the Department of City Planning, the Department of Water and Power, and the LAPD. He believes that stopping the launch of these gambling dens will go a long way in curbing their operations city-wide.

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Jackson
Our in-house expert for all things regulation, Jackson covers all major recent developments across US states relating to gambling laws & legislation.