Spanish poker room busted for cocaine-fuelled illegal gambling

Jon Pill
Posted on: October 25, 2020 13:30 PDT

The owner of a gourmet food shop in Alicante, Spain is in trouble for hosting illegal poker games in the shop's wine cellar. He is also looking at charges relating to the sale of cocaine during the games.

The police staked the shop out for a while, after receiving a tip to suspicious comings and goings.

During the bust, they found “twelve packages of cocaine prepared for sale” and the small but incriminating sum of “420 euros.”

Upon entering the shop, one could buy all manner of Spanish delicacies. But you might find their cheese and wine selection a bit limited as the cool cellar the shop used to store them had been allegedly converted into a card room.

Complete with a secret door behind one of the display shelves, this underground poker club reportedly had everything you could want right there on hand. Fancy snacks upstairs, the privacy of a windowless basement, and (allegedly) the convenience of an in-residence drug dealer.

Serious crimes

Although online poker is legal in Spain, it uses a segregated pool. The small player pools mean it can be hard to get the kind of game you like. It can be even harder to get a live game as all unlicensed games are illegal in Spain.

The law takes itself seriously in Spain. It has an older population with a large number of conservative-Catholics that tended to skew anti-vice in the polls.

Back in 2014, some players were busted for a crime as small as participating in a €35 9-man sit-and-go in a pub. Unlicensed poker games, even private ones, are illegal in every part of Spain. That time around the police confiscated €1.6k, three decks of cards, and a set of exactly 497 chips complete with case.

That venue was also fined for allowing the players to take drugs, not having a complaints form, and letting people smoke inside. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the bar also lacked “civil responsibility insurance.”

In Alicante delicto

This time around, the charges are more serious. This case involved more people than the case in 2014. And more money and, allegedly, more drugs.

Additionally, the police are viewing the management as being actively in on the sale of drugs. As opposed to just turning a blind eye to customers' partying.

As importantly, the games also violated Spain's anti-COVID measures, which include a ban on large gatherings. Spain was one of the nations hit hardest by COVID and it is currently looking at the bleak possibility of a second wave as cases spike and deaths rise.

Forty people had apparently crowded into the basement. Poker tables make it hard to socially distance.

Plus — there's no good way to keep your N95 on while sniffing lines of powder.

Featured image source: Flickr