2015-12-16 / Front Page

City cracking down on 8-liners but casinos going strong in Lyford

BY TONY VINDELL
Reporter


MAQUINITAS at Sizzling 777. 
(Photos by TonyVindell) MAQUINITAS at Sizzling 777. (Photos by TonyVindell) The only vehicles seen outside the Sizzling 777 casino parlor on Business 77 on Thursday night were not from patrons.

They were from law enforcement officers and from the city, following Thursday’s crackdown on two of the four eightliners operating in town.

Inside the business premises, the scenery was also different.

Instead of the predominantly older patrons that frequent the eightliners, or maquinitas, police officers were seen taking an inventory of the place that opened several months ago.

Every single coin operated machine had been opened and the contents taken out.

In the kitchen area, cold hot dogs were floating inside a slow cooker, while cheese used to make nachos started to get thicker.

Chips, bottled water and soft drinks seemed to be in abundant supply.

Sizzling 777 was the second eightliner Raymondville police busted last Thursday night.

A few minutes earlier, they also busted the Lucky Barn on north Business 77.

And before police went to Silver City and Silverado casino parlors, the two eightliners shut down on their own.

Silverado is completely empty, while Silver City has a few machines inside.

Several signs posted on the window say they are closed for remodeling and will reopen Dec. 16, or today.

Police Chief Uvaldo Zamora said the two eightliners were busted, following an ongoing undercover investigation.

He said they were giving out more than the allowed winning prize of the equivalent of about $5 in silver.

“They were operating legally until they started giving out more than 10 percent over a bet,” he said. “They were in violation of state gambling laws.”

Zamora said police seized about $35,000 in cash from both casinos.

Later in the day, workers for two U-Haul trucks arrived and started putting all the equipment from the headliners inside the vehicles.

A man said they were taking all the stuff to storage until the owners show up to claim it.

Zamora said all the equipment and cash was turned over to the Willacy County District Attorney’s Office, or the agency that will determine how to handle the cases.

Sizzling 777 was the second of four casino parlors to open this year in Raymondville, following a two-year hiatus when police shut the eightliners down.

The same parlor, however, has 167 machines in the old Massey-Furguson building in Lyford after the city issued them a permit to operate there.

Lyford is now becoming a gambling mecca in the Rio Grande Valley. Two others, the Wagon Wheel and El Toro, are operation there as well.

Lyford charges $20 per sticker plus a one-time yearly fee of $8,000, or $12,000 a year if the fees are paid every quarter.

The city is welcoming the eightliners with open arms and officials there said they need all the money they can take.

On Sunday, for example, the parking lots of all three casinos were packed and people could be seen going in and coming out as if the businesses were going out of style.

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