HALTOM CITY, TX -- State investigators raided Hest Technologies Inc. and the homes of several of its senior executives here in this Fort Worth suburb on Aug. 17. Four top company officials were arrested.
Separately, police in Dallas arrested the director of a charity that has received revenues from Hest sweepstakes operations located in Texas and other states.
NOTE: Hest Technologies has posted at its site, "Rumors of our demise are greatly exaggerated. We know the phones are down and RMS is down, but hang in there. We will have updates soon!"
Hest is a leading manufacturer of sweepstakes videogames used by operators nationwide. Newspaper reporters said Hest executives could not be reached for comment.
According to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, those arrested included Hest president Chris Canard, his wife Shannon Canard and Robert Houchin Jr., with bond set at $28,000 each. Also arrested was Andrea Geist, with bond set at $4,500. Authorities were also seeking Robert Houchin Sr.
Meanwhile, Dallas Police have arrested Dalace-Skye Duvall, operator of the Skyeward Bound Ranch, which is a prominent charity beneficiary of Hest sweepstakes operators both in Texas and nationwide.
The arrests occurred during a joint operation led by the Texas Attorney General's Office, in concert with district attorneys for Anderson and Tarrant Counties.
The Hest raid followed months of investigations that stretched from coast to coast and involved numerous federal authorities, as well as multiple state governments. Among them were the FBI, IRS and U.S. Secret Service, along with government agencies, police and prosecutors from California, Massachusetts and Virginia.
Officials said the defendants face felony gambling, money laundering and organized criminal activity charges. | SEE STATEMENT
To support its claim that Hest sweepstakes systems constitute illegal gambling devices, the Texas Attorney General's office pointed to an early August ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit (New Orleans). According to the appellate court's opinion, sweepstakes operators in that case were selling Internet time as "mere subterfuge" to induce customers to play the sweepstakes.
Hest is no stranger to controversy, having won some clear victories on similar issues in other states.
In December 2011, a district court judge in South Carolina found that Hest sweepstakes games were not gambling and that Skyeward's charitable fundraising through Hest devices did not violate state gambling laws. | SEE ANNOUNCEMENT