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Cedar Creek Lake game rooms raided, shut down; officials vow to end illegal gambling


David Webb is a veteran journalist who has written for the mainstream and alternative media for three decades. He is now a freelancer who lives in the Cedar Creek Lake area.

Henderson County officials announced a crackdown on illegal gambling in the Cedar Creek Lake area after raiding four game rooms and the Gun Barrel City house of the owner.

Game rooms in  Eustace, Tool, Seven Points and Cap City owned by John George Desanto were targeted Dec. 16. Desanto, 53, was arrested on charges of engaging in organized criminal activity and money laundering, which are second-degree felonies.

At the time of his arrest, Desanto was out of jail on a $15,000 bond for the alleged manufacture and distribution of illegal drugs in October.

Law enforcement officials executed five search warrants that included Desanto's house in Gun Barrel City and a safety deposit box at Prosperity Bank. They also seized four cars and three motorcycles.

Henderson County District Attorney Scott McKee and Sheriff Ray Nutt said the raids followed a year-long investigation by the Henderson County Sheriff's Office, the Texas Department of Public Safety, the Texas Rangers and The Texas State Comptroller.

McKee's office launched the investigation.

No one was arrested for gambling during the raids, but one person in Eustace was arrested for possession of illegal drugs. Gambling is a Class C Misdemeanor in Texas.

Nutt said the raids and arrests marked the beginning of a crackdown on game rooms in the Cedar Creek Lake area because they are a breeding ground for illegal activity.

Nutt warned that other businesses such as nightclubs that offer eight-liner machines for gambling could become the target of legal proceedings.

Eight-liners are automated game machines similar to slot machines in casinos. Possession of the machines is not illegal, but gambling on them is, Nutt said.

Nutt said armed robberies are a risk in game rooms that could result in the death of someone.

"The game rooms are illegal, and they have a lot of dope going into them," Nutt said. "A lot of people are playing in the game rooms who can't afford to lose the money."

McKee said the Texas Legislature needs to pass legislation to put a stop to game rooms because they are a problem in all of the state's counties.

Nutt and McKee said they doubted Desanto's game rooms would reopen anytime soon. The officials said law enforcement officers built a solid case against Desanto, which included the use of undercover officers.

 Nutt and McKee are pictured below.



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