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Issue Date: Vol. 50, No. 11, November 2010, Posted On: 10/20/2010

Eight-Liner Operators In Texas Get Hit With RICO Suit

Marcus Webb
eight-liner machines, Texas eight-liner, Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, RICO, Juan Angel Guerra, Amusement and Music Operators of Texas, amusement machines, adult redemption, prize games

CAMERON COUNTY, TX -- A former local district attorney has filed a civil suit against 180 eight-liner operators and their associates in two counties, charging them with crimes ranging from theft and fraud to money laundering and illegal gambling under the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act.

See a copy of the civil suit.

The RICO lawsuit charges that some 9,000 eight-liner machines in Cameron and Willacy county arcades and street locations illegally earn some $180 million a month by luring players with promises they can "win big" from the machines that are allegedly rigged to ensure that players lose most of the time.

RICO statutes permit civilians to file civil suits, although it is rarely done. Former Willacy County District Attorney Juan Angel Guerra filed the lawsuit in the 103rd state District Court. He said the federal statute also provides for state courts to handle such cases.

The suit was filed in the names of "John Doe" and "Jane Doe." Guerra said he was acting on behalf of local citizens who wished to remain anonymous because they were afraid of reprisals.

According to terms of the suit, the eight-liners are located in shopping malls, convenience stores, truckstops, warehouses and gamerooms marketed as "casinos." The infrequent winners are usually rewarded with cash, merchandise certificates or lottery tickets.

According to Guerra, unsuspecting citizens mistakenly believe the eight-liners are fair and legal because operators affix $60 county permit stickers to them. The suit charges that the county governments "have no interest in shutting down" this "racketeering" activity because they profit from permit sales.

The suit also states that the Does seek to recover triple damages for their losses in addition to court costs, as provided for by RICO.

Texas state law permits eight-liners to operate with only noncash prizes of limited value. The Amusement and Music Operators of Texas has been lobbying the state government for more than a decade to amend the law.

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