Three Springfield men arrested today for what police say was an illegal gambling operation in a business that billed itself as a "social club." Dozens of officers raided The Club House at Kansas and Battlefield this afternoon and arrested the men, accused of promoting illegal gambling.
"It was surprising but it wasn't surprising. I had a feeling it was going to happen eventually." said a regular card player at The Club House, who didn't want to give his name.
He said he has played cards at The Club House around 10 times and has seen as many as 20 people playing at once. He thought the business was operating in more of a gray area.
"It really didn't feel like playing at a bad place. It didn't feel like any different than playing a home game with some friends." he explained.
KY3 and KSPR received complaints that there was illegal gambling going on in the club. So we sent a crew inside, undercover, and this is how the rules were explained by workers inside.
"Unlike a casino we don't take a *inaudible* from the pot. Basically you pay for your seat and play for real money," said the man our undercover crew spoke with. "You pay the dealer every thirty minutes, you pay five bucks. It is five bucks a half hour to rent your seat."
During law enforcement's investigation, they took gambling devices, records, and money. Then arrested William Schroeder, Jeremy Smith, and Ryan Bailey, all from Springfield for promoting gambling. Charges for the three men have not yet come down.
"We are getting cooperation from those involved." said Sgt. Jeff Kinder with the Missouri State Highway Patrol.
Our undercover crew was given an application and the rules. They read the club house is quote "the most exclusive private social club in Missouri." It goes on to read that to be in the club you had to pay a 20 dollar fee each month, a 15 dollar daily membership, and a "game seat rental" of five dollars per half-hour. The application sheet even has a comment at the bottom that says "bet with your head, not over it," with a gambling addiction phone number after it.
"I hate driving over to the casino which is about an hour away," said the card player. "I figured it wasn't going to last too long but I was kind of excited for a chance to do it without having to take a long trek."
An investigation is underway after local law-enforcement raided a Springfield business known as “The Club House” Thursday afternoon.
The so-called "social club" is in the strip mall at the corner of Kansas and Battlefield, next to the former location of the King Cash Saver.
Law enforcement obtained a search warrant for illegal gambling prior to the raid.
A news release from the Missouri State Highway Patrol says the raid is part of an ongoing investigation into illegal gaming activities. The Missouri State Highway Patrol worked in partnership with the Springfield Police Department and Greene County Sheriff's Office to execute the search warrant for The Club House.
The Missouri State Highway Patrol Division of Drug and Crime Control seized gambling devices, records, and proceeds from illegal gaming operations.
Three people were arrested as part of the investigation, including William A. Shroeder, 44, of Springfield, Jeremy M. Smith, 40, of Springfield, and Ryan L. Bailey, 36, of Springfield.
Earlier this week, KY3 and KSPR went undercover inside the club after receiving a tip that the location was used for gambling.
Our crew was met at the door by a worker before they could get too far inside, and given an application and the “rules.” One sheet states no one under the age of 18 is admitted to “The Club House,” and the other one states the age is restricted to 21 and older.
The rules read The Club House is “the most exclusive private social club in Missouri.” The document goes on to say they provide members the “most professional legal club in the state,” and that the club offers a no-commission cash game with Texas Hold’em, Omaha, and other card games.
Workers told our undercover crew that a twenty dollar per month fee is required to be a part of the club, as well as a fifteen dollar daily membership fee, along with a “game seat rental” of five dollars per-half-hour. In the case of a tournament, of which they said one was coming soon, the fee would be twenty dollars to enter.
One worker stated the nature of the club to our crew, saying in part, "It’s called a social club. They are playing poker here. Unlike a casino we don’t take a portion of the pot. Basically you pay for your seat, and play for real money."
The application sheet has a comment at the bottom that reads, “Bet with your head, not over it.” And it reads if you have a gambling problem to call a 1-800 number.
The club also had a table where our crews confirmed people were playing a poker game with chips.
This report is developing and we will update as we gather more information.