Community Snitches on Illegal Poker Game in South Carolina; Three Arrested in Raid

Home » Community Snitches on Illegal Poker Game in South Carolina; Three Arrested in Raid
South Carolina Poker Raid

Three individuals were arrested at a poker game raid inside a South Carolina office building after community members tipped off police of the alleged illegal activity.

The incident took place on April 10 in Irmo, a suburban town of about 12,000 residents in the Columbia Metropolitan area. South Carolina has strict anti-gambling laws, and no legal brick-and-mortar poker rooms in operation.

Poker Game Raid

According to Columbia’s CBS affiliate, WLTX (News 19), police received tips from members of the community about an illegal gambling operation at an office suite in Irmo.

Police claim they discovered the suite hosted frequent poker events where six to 20 players would attend. The host of the poker games is alleged to have collected a portion of the winnings.

Three individuals — Gary Watts (67), Adam Watts (28), and Daniel Schaffer (53) — were arrested during the raid and charged with keeping unlawful gaming tables. Seven others on site were charged with playing at a gaming house. Officers seized $15,000 from the room during the raid.

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“This type of activity is against state law, and will not be tolerated in Irmo,” said Irmo Police Chief Bobby Dale in a statement. “We have seen in past gambling operations that lives have been lost because of the financial greed of some involved. We will not allow this activity to be a part of our community.”

The South Carolina Law Enforcement Division and Richland County Sheriff’s Department assisted the Irmo Police Department in conducting the sting operation to put a stop to an alleged illegal poker game.

Gary Watts is a former Richland County coroner. After being released from police custody, he told WIS News 10 that the whole thing was “blown out of proportion.”

“This is simply not the kind of operation that is being described by police,” Watts claims. “It’s a card game, it’s not a casino, it’s not machines, it’s not drugs, it’s not anything. It’s just a bunch of guys getting together to play cards, have a meal, have a few drinks, watch TV, share some laughs.”

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Watts continued to explain that he hosted casual games among friends. But Irmo police dispute that claim.

“There may be friendly games of gambling, poker that go on in other neighborhoods, other communities, however, our investigation was very thorough and it was very long,” police Chief Dale told WIS News 10. “It basically determined that this is a business that’s being run. It’s not just a friendly game of poker. This is organized business, this was gambling.”

According to police, the investigation has been ongoing for months, and the search warrant was obtained April 10. A June court date has been set for those charged in connection to the illegal gambling operation.

Penalties for violating South Carolina’s gambling laws can be severe and can include fines, imprisonment, and the forfeiture of property used in the commission of the crime.

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