Tom Umberg

Assemblymember Salas & Senator Umberg crack down on illegal gambling

Assembly Bill (AB) 1294, authored by Assemblymember Salas and coauthored by Senator Tom Umberg, passed the California State Senate with bipartisan support and is headed to the Governor’s office. This bill strengthens the ability of the California Department of Justice and other local law enforcement agencies to go after the bank accounts and assets of international gangs and organized criminals who are convicted of operating illegal gambling sites.

“This bill deals a serious blow to criminals running illegal gambling operations,” said Assemblymember Salas. “These illicit sites often attract serious crimes like drugs and human trafficking which impacts the public safety of families throughout California. In Kern County, the Sheriff’s office reports that crime rates can increase tenfold around the location of an illegal gambling operation. I am encouraged to see AB 1294 pass the Senate and move to the Governor’s desk for a final signature which will help make our communities safer.”

AB 1294 builds on legislation authored by Assemblymember Salas in 2014 – AB 1439 – which helped fight illegal sweepstakes gambling cafes in response to concerns from local business owners about an increase in crime near legally permitted establishments. While this legislation helped start the closure of these illegal businesses, the games are so profitable that operators are often able to open new sites faster than law enforcement can shut them down.

“Communities I represent in both Orange and Los Angeles Counties continue to be plagued by the blight of illegal gambling establishments, and the crime that accompanies them,” said Senator Tom Umberg, former prosecutor, and former Deputy Director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy. “The criminals that run these facilities often directly or peripherally facilitate the influx of other dangerous crimes like drug abuse and assault. I am proud to coauthor AB 1294 which will help improve public safety for families throughout California, and I commend Assemblymember Salas for taking the lead with this important legislation.”

The American Gaming Association estimates that the illegal gambling industry, which includes electronic slot machines and arcade-style gambling games, collects more than $10 billion a year in illegal proceeds. These establishments siphon gambling revenue from the state lottery and state-licensed gambling businesses and have been linked to drugs, property crimes, robberies, violent felonies, and organized crime overseas.

AB 1294 will help law enforcement more effectively combat new illegal gambling operations throughout the state. The bill will now go to Governor Gavin Newsom’s office for final consideration.

This article was released by the California State Legislature.