bobbartop
bobbartop
Joined: Mar 15, 2016
  • Threads: 123
  • Posts: 2527
Thanks for this post from:
AxelWolfMaxPenGialmereodiousgambit
July 3rd, 2019 at 8:32:41 PM permalink
Some days I like to go through some of my old hard drives and reminisce. Today I found an old article from a local gambling newspaper in Arizona, 1987 through 1990, somewhere around that time. In fact, if I recall, when I first scanned the article I was using a 386 computer, Windows 3.1, to put this in perspective.

Some of you might be from Arizona and are old enough to remember this story well. I hope you can enjoy the memories. Posters from other places in the country, I hope you will enjoy this also. In the late 80s, something happened in Arizona, that you'll probably never see again. For a few years, Arizona, especially Phoenix, was the Wild Wild West. Seriously. Dodge City, baby.

Enjoy.

-------

History Of Arizona's Social Gambling

It all started back in August 1987 when the State Legislature updated the Arizona gambling statutes. Along with adding felony penalties to the gambling laws, they added a "social gambling" exemption. The intention was to allow friends to play poker and bet between themselves on sporting events, but it took only a few months for the idea to catch on in the bars that open gambling was now okay. At first only poker was played, and supposably the players supplied all of the equipment and the bar had nothing to do with the games. Next blackjack began to appear, wherein the deal could rotate to a player if he got a "twenty-one", thus making the game "equal terms" as required by the law. The gambling stayed on a relatively small scale for the first year, with only about twenty bars allowing it and this was mostly in the Phoenix area.

In August 1988 Tommy's Full House opened and this caused a revolution in the social gambling. The first unique thing that he did was to advertise the gambling at his bar. His bar also
became the largest at the time with 13 blackjack tables, 6 poker tables, 2 hold'em poker tables, a
14 foot craps table, and a 20 foot double roulette table. In August 1988 Tommy Cassella, owner of the Full House, was charged by the Arizona Attorney General with attempting to benefit from gambling, a class 2 misdemeanor. The case was heard in Justice Court and the judge ruled in October 1988 that the law was unconstitutionally vague and dismissed the charges. This caused an explosion of gambling throughout the bars now that a court, albeit only a Justice Court, had essentially stated that the gambling activity was all right.

In the Spring of 1989 the State Legislature, at the request of the Attorney General's Office, tried to change the "social gambling" definitions to get the gambling out of the bars. Because of disagreements between the House and the Senate, the bill finally died after almost passing several times in several different forms.

Until the Summer of 1989 it was mainly Phoenix area bars that were offering the gambling, but soon Tucson and the rest of the state started to get into the act of having "social gambling". The Attorney General's Office made another attempt to stop the barroom gambling by filing public nuisance suits against six Phoenix area bars in July and August of 1989. The results of the cases were as follows:

The bars Pool & Brew and McWade's agreed to stop the "social gambling" in their establishments in order to avoid the state's suit.

In the Tommy's Full House case, Judge Stover ruled against the Full House and issued an injunction that prohibited the gambling activity on the grounds that the gambling was illegal and did not fall within the "social gambling" exemption.

In the Lester's Lounge case, Judge Pro Ten Joel Thompson ruled that the craps and roulette were illegal, but that poker and twenty-one were probably allowable.

In the Sweetwater Inn and Tong's Bar case, Judge O'Melia ruled that the "social gambling" statute was unconstitutionally broad and vague and that it was up to the State Legislature to address the "social gambling" issue.

As can be seen from these mixed and varied rulings, the whole question of what was legal or illegal was totally up in the air. The "social gambling industry" continued to grow at an amazing rate so that by the Spring of 1990 there were estimated to be approximately 250 bars in Arizona conducting "social gambling" and the dollar amounts involved were not small. The Phoenix Police Department estimated that in 1988 there was 547.5 million dollars wagered in the Phoenix bars offering "social gambling"!!!

This all lead up to the show down of the ''social gambling" bars versus the Attorney General's Office, the Dog and Horse Racing Lobbyists, and Liquor Control in lobbying the State Legislature in the Spring of 1990. This time the bars lost and on May 3, 1990 a new "social gambling" law become effective and most of the barroom gambling shut down immediately. A few bars decided to continue to offer the "social gambling" by creating adjoining "Social Clubs", but on June 1, 1990 Lester's Lounge and the adjacent Lily Pad Social Club were raided by police and closed, along with Jerry Roper the owner of the establishment being arrested.

On August 31, 1990 the Cliff Manor Inn near Tucson was raided by various law enforcement agencies and several people were arrested along with various gambling equipment being seized.

On September 15, 1990 the 16th Street Social Club was raided by Phoenix Police and Department of Public Safety Officers. Arrested was owner Fook Hoi "Steve" Tong and approximately a dozen patrons on gambling and related charges. In a related raid at his south Phoenix home, Samuel J. Jeffcoat was arrested by police for helping to run the gambling operations at Tong's club.

On September 21, 1990 police raided a house located in Paradise Valley and arrested seven people on gambling charges including the people dealing the games of 4-5-6 and blackjack. Police also stated that the cards used at the blackjack table were marked and many patrons noted heavy losses at that game.

In the latest raids, it seems that the law enforcement community is taking the stance that they are not going to tolerate the creation of superficial "social clubs" to circumvent the law. So as a player, you are taking a "gamble" with a possible criminal record if you play at these social gambling clubs.

It will now be up to the courts to decide again what is permissible under the new "social gambling" law. In the meantime gambling is still at an all time high in Arizona with much of the old bar room gambling going underground and into private homes. There are two significant differences with the current gambling situation compared to three 'years ago before "social gambling" became legal. First, the players now know each other and have a network that did not exist three years ago. Second, there are many out of state gamblers that have moved to Arizona and will stay here as long as it remains profitable.
'Emergencies' have always been the pretext on which the safeguards of individual liberty have been eroded.
billryan
billryan
Joined: Nov 2, 2009
  • Threads: 165
  • Posts: 8874
Thanks for this post from:
bobbartop
July 4th, 2019 at 9:12:50 AM permalink
Seemed like every scallywag in the West headed to Arizona towards the end. I've heard many stories of the day.
Ayecarumba
Ayecarumba
Joined: Nov 17, 2009
  • Threads: 236
  • Posts: 6763
July 4th, 2019 at 2:36:51 PM permalink
Thanks for the interesting peek into the past. Itís another example of why we are not allowed to have nice things.
Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication - Leonardo da Vinci
bobbartop
bobbartop
Joined: Mar 15, 2016
  • Threads: 123
  • Posts: 2527
Thanks for this post from:
Shadaowbeachbumbabs
July 4th, 2019 at 3:47:03 PM permalink
Quote: billryan

Seemed like every scallywag in the West headed to Arizona towards the end. I've heard many stories of the day.



Oh gosh, when I first went out there I had never seen so many cheats in my life. And I came from Gardena, where the cards were still player-dealt, so I was accustomed to cheats. I was still in my young 30s then, good times. A friend in Phoenix called me and told be to get my butt out there, so I took a fact-finding trip. I remember sitting in a small game in a bar in Glendale. The game that hand was 7-stud, high. Everyone was still in by 5th Street. I had three Aces showing, bet, and NOBODY folded. lol I pretty much ran back to Los Angeles and packed my bags.

I made a lot of friends over there, mostly people older than I. I was still a kid. When it was done, I went back to LA. At the time, the Indian casinos had not started up with poker. But soon it mushroomed. I have never been back, but kept in touch with friends for years. One by one, there were less friends to call. People die. Now I don't hear from anyone. I called a friend last week who I had not talked to in maybe 12 years. He filled me in on who else has died. Almost everyone. I had a 2-page list of names for home games. I still have the list. But it's just for memories, no one on the list is still alive. And now I'm old. It sucks.
'Emergencies' have always been the pretext on which the safeguards of individual liberty have been eroded.
Shadaow
Shadaow
Joined: Mar 26, 2020
  • Threads: 0
  • Posts: 1
Thanks for this post from:
beachbumbabs
March 26th, 2020 at 2:44:26 PM permalink
I can't tell if you are a gambler, a dealer or just an avid gossiper. Either way. I can tell you that Sam Jeffcoat followed the laws. They were grey laws. He did it in Alaska, Florida, Arizona and finally in Oregon. It was legal to do social gambling. But I know that any place that there were social gambling tables, there were both clean and dirty cards. Sam Jeffcoat did mark his cards and all of his dealers knew it. His girlfriend was murdered in a parking lot at a indian casino in california. Her name was Danni. She was mugged and the men put her inside of the trunk of her car and set her on fire. She died two days later. Sam was a narcissistic man who only cared about chasing money. What was supposed to be a fun social game of blackjack was changed by Jeffcoat, into an organized crime group. He was not a hero, he was not a criminal. He was a gambling addict. He didn't care about his daughter, his wife or any of his victims. He owed more than he was ever worth. And the FBI only stopped looking for him, when he faked his death. He was smart. But he is not dead. He is alive and he is doing well.
FleaStiff
FleaStiff
Joined: Oct 19, 2009
  • Threads: 264
  • Posts: 14374
March 26th, 2020 at 4:05:32 PM permalink
Quote: bobbartop


On September 21, 1990 police raided a house located in Paradise Valley and arrested seven people on gambling charges including the people dealing the games of 4-5-6 and blackjack. Police also stated that the cards used at the blackjack table were marked and many patrons noted heavy losses at that game.

It should be noted that Paradise Valley does not have any houses, just mansions and mega-mansions, so this raid had a real impact.

  • Jump to: