Seven arrested in illegal gambling operation bust in Houston's Asiatown

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Seven arrested in illegal gambling operation bust in Houston's Asiatown.

Seven suspects who are accused of running an illegal gambling operation in Houston's Asiatown made their initial appearance in court Monday.

Investigators believe Vui Khian Ng, Huy Nguyen, Ven Lam, Siew Yien Ma, Than Vuong, Kevin Lou, and Patrick Wong were all involved in illegal baccarat gambling located inside a nondescript building on Wilcrest.

Monday morning, after suspects appeared in court, most were not too eager to talk to Eyewitness News, trying to pull their shirts over their faces. We did speak briefly with Ven Lam, who said he was just a dealer.

"I don't know, I don't know nothing," said Lam, who told us he "Only deal cards," and was unsure if the operation was legal.

But investigators believe the seven suspects knew exactly what was going on. The front door of the alleged baccarat hall was named "Asian Recreational Center." Those going inside would have to get past a door man, and have thorough knowledge of baccarat, a card game popular with Asian gamblers.

"They have a locked door that has to be opened by a door man, so when they go inside they see the illegal gambling," said prosecutor Casey Goodman, who says the bust occurred after several sting operations by the Houston Police Department.

M.D. Khan, who operates an Indian grocery store next door, says the parking lot would be filled with baccarat players every night.

"They all inside go inside, everybody go inside. But I don't go inside," said Khan, who admitted he knew people were gambling next door. But that he minded his own business in his modest shop. "I'm a legal operation."

Today, the Asian Recreation Center's doors are locked. It is unknown if additional arrests may be forthcoming.
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