The mere mention of illegal gambling builds up stereotypical images of extravagant underground casinos which are reserved only for high rollers who win or lose someone’s income in the course of one evening. Admittedly, some venues move mountains to recreate this feel and live up to the stereotype. And they do attract celebrities and billionaires who end up playing a game or two. For instance, you’ve probably heard about many A-listers who frequented some high-stakes underground poker rooms.
Those places do exist, albeit in lower numbers, until they draw the attention of the law enforcement who break in to stop them. But for most of us, the reality is far more ordinary. If we do encounter such casinos, then we’ll come across a few slot machines situated in the back of a smoky bar. Or we’ll play card games in some office or warehouse and get fewer incentives than we’d get in a legal casino. As a case in point, we can mention one underground Texas business where people are regularly trying to beat 75 slot machines. They’re located at a former tire store.
See? This doesn’t really lend itself to an over-the-top Hollywood movie or any work of fiction for that matter. Still, one thing is for certain — this is a highly profitable business that comes with a major risk. So what is underground gambling and how can you identify it? According to the law, you can spot such a business if it is in clear breach of the state law. Aside from this, it has to include five or more people. On top of that, that venue has to be operating for more than 30 days and earning about $2,000 each day. If it ticks all these boxes, then it’s pretty much an illegal venture that offers underground games.
The Dangers of Underground Gambling
Illegal gambling is not without its attendant risks. Simply put, there is no basic protection that you’d find in a regular casino. If you ever do visit an illegal venue, you’ll notice that some of the other things you take for granted are lacking. For instance, ethical conduct isn’t high on its list. Also, some experts believe that these places prey on those with gambling addiction. We’ll mention some of the dangers you might encounter below.
1. They Might Collude Against You
Game integrity is one of the essential reasons why regulated casinos have opened in some states. In the past, gamblers expected to get scammed while playing games of skill. However, some organizations ended the gambling lawlessness in this industry. For this reason, many underground casinos began to profit. Even today, some of them are run by incapable individuals who indulge in illegal activities.
Moreover, those who are in charge are, most commonly, passionate gamblers who’ve decided to turn this into a profession. Don’t think that they’re more prone to ethical conduct than major companies — they aren’t. In fact, there are instances of the house colluding with other players who assist them in generating profit. These players strike gold at a poker table with the help of the dealer. Then, they share their winnings with that illegal venue. Even though you’re playing fair, you can’t really win in these cases.
2. You Might Get Robbed
If we are to believe some gamblers, this happens a lot in underground casinos. For instance, one time, a group of robbers broke into an office building situated between 5th Avenue and 28th Street in New York City. This place hosted a game of underground poker. Logically, they immediately rushed to the high-limit table. Here, they took all the jewelry and cash they could find. On top of that, they stole other valuables from some business titans, and no one could stop them.
Frankly, these robberies are potential threats in underground gambling. And some of them even ended in shootings in the past. Therefore, we’re not sure whether a chance to spin the reels is worth this kind of danger. Say all that you want about commercial casinos, but at least the possibilities of this happening there are slim to none.
3. The Authorities Might Bust It
Don’t worry — thieves are not the only threat here. It’s even more plausible for the authorities to barge in. In fact, they are becoming more hostile towards illegal gambling and want to shut it down in their respective states. They don’t focus only on the people running it, but on those playing as well. If they find you within the premises during their raid, the chances are that they’ll charge you for breaking the law.
For instance, law enforcement in Arizona has been carrying out a lot of raids recently. They’ve been able to locate a number of underground rings, much to their delight. A spokesperson for the Arizona Department of Gaming said that the court would show leniency neither towards the players nor the operators — they will all appear in court. The latter will also be accused of racketeering, among other things. So don’t just presume that only the operator is going to face jail — all those participating will. So if you want to avoid this, don’t visit an underground casino, and look for legal ways of playing games instead.
Why Is It Appealing?
When you come to think of it, it’s understandable why some players decide to engage in this form of gambling. In the United States, you can’t really locate a casino in every city due to some strict laws. Thus, those who want to scratch an itch are only left with the possibility of trying to find places where they can gamble. They are okay with wagering under-the-counter, just as long as they get to play their favorite game.
Some find it appealing that certain underground casinos don’t impose a minimum bet. They believe that this puts the pressure off of them, and they can relax without worrying whether they’ll have the required amount of money to continue playing. Aside from that, others are attracted by one more thing which one can’t have in a legal casino. We’re talking about the chance of betting not only your money, of course. Those who don’t have a lot of cash can wager other items and still be allowed in the game.
Cars, houses, apartments, and jewelry can get you far in underground gambling. To be specific, they are common betting items here. People resort to them only in desperate times, but these casinos still accept them. Some gamblers lose all of their money and believe that the last round might help them return it. This is why they use their, say, car and remain in the game. Sadly, more often than not, they’re left devoid of the money on the table and their valuable belongings.
What’s more, some gamblers approach illegal bookmakers. The reason why is that they don’t need to pay taxes, and thus, these bookmakers provide better odds. They also accept wagers over the phone, which those operating a legal venue do not. And the best part is, you can find them in underground casinos as well. For instance, you can wager on the outcome of a certain sporting event. The thrill of making a wager in a seedy place is highly attractive for some. Although, we’d say that it’s not worth the risk. But bear in mind that, if something goes wrong, you won’t have anyone to turn to. There are no regulatory bodies that might come to your aid.
The Decision Is on You
In this article, we strived to answer the question “What is underground gambling?” With the points we made, we hope that you’re now aware that you should approach underground gambling at your own risk. So if you realize that it might bring more negative things than positive, then you might be best off in a regulated casino.