Atlanta poker busts were exercises in stupidity

by Lou on April 12, 2007

Now that a judge was arrested during the second gambling bust in suburban Atlanta in as many days, it shows just how really silly the entire operation was.

Fifty-two people were rounded up Tuesday night at the Poker Palace in Jonesboro and charged with misdemeanor gambling. The owners are charged with keeping a place of gambling and possession of gambling equipment, both felonies.

The arrests concluded a month long investigation by the Clayton County Sheriff’s Office vice unit. I don’t have a clue about how Georgia law enforcement thinks, but it couldn’t have been too tough to tell that a poker game was going on. A sign out front said, “Poker Palace.” But it took the cops two years to get their act together, which is surprising because the club was literally down the street from the sheriff’s office.

Did it really take them two years to open their eyes?

The sheriff claimed to be infuriated when asked how the casino could operate so close to law enforcement. All that comes to my mind is that classic line from Casablanca, when the police chief, played by Claude rains says, “I’m shocked, shocked to see that gambling is going on here.” As he finishes the sentence, a croupier comes running up, hands him a rack of chips, and say, “Your winnings, sir.”

What an incredible waste of law enforcement manpower this all is. The club was operating for two years right down the street from the sheriff’s office with neither complaint nor incident. They catered to a wide variety of customers — judges included — who were there to play poker, and weren’t a threat to anyone.

You can blame the sheriff for a bit of bumbling stupidity. You can also blame Georgia’s anachronistic laws. At least Georgia law enforcement didn’t behave like the cops in Dallas did a few months. There were a couple of really ugly arrests there, with fully armed swat teams busting card games and knocking down doors as though they were about to capture a team of terrorists in the final stages of manufacturing a briefcase sized nuke.

Busting poker players is really a tragic waste of taxpayer dollars and it doesn’t take much creativity at all to think of a raft of other ways that law enforcement units could have been better deployed.

This raid followed a similar raid by one day, when Roswell police arrested 27 poker players Monday.

I guess Atlanta area poker players will have to lay low for awhile, or perhaps they’ll all get together and book a discount tour to Tunica sometime soon.

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