News10NBC Exclusive: An insider takes you into the gambling scene of Rochester

Updated: 06/26/2014 7:23 PM
Created: 06/26/2014 12:42 PM WHEC.com
By: Berkeley Brean

An insider is speaking out about how much alleged illegal gambling is going on in our community. This comes after a married couple was ambushed and shot leaving a poker game they organized in the city last week and after the FBI busted a multi-million dollar gambling ring in the city Wednesday.

The feds raided several homes and the Marina Restaurant and Bar in Charlotte. They charged three men with running an off-shore gambling scheme that netted them more than $70-million.

After we reported on the couple that was shot in Rochester last week, showing how they were attacked leaving the poker game they organized, we were contacted by a man who says he used to play in those poker games.

We have hidden his identity for his protection. The first thing we asked, was he surprised about the shooting? He said, "With the amount of money in some of those places, I think that crime is always a potential."

The couple shot live in a home in Ontario, Wayne County. They survived the attack. They run the website RochesterNYPoker.com which includes a calendar of upcoming poker games.

Berkeley Brean: "How big is the poker industry in our area?"
Insider: "I don't want to say it's rampant because that's kind of a strong word but if you want to find a place to play you can pretty easily find a place to play."

The state says poker is legal as long as the house doesn't make money.

Brean: "In these poker games, is the house making money?"
Insider: "Yeah of course."
Brean: "How much money?"
Insider: "It depends on the night and depends on the game they're playing."

Our insider says it's called raking.
Insider: "It's pretty simple. As the players make their bets and put money into the pot, the dealer will then take, if there's $100 in, they'll take a $5 chip out and set it into their stack of chips. At the end of the night you may only pay back out $400 and the house keeps the extra $600. That's what they've taken off the table."
Brean: "Do you remember seeing any public officials in these poker games? People involved in law enforcement or government?"
Insider: "No but there's other people in town, you'd know who they were."
Brean: "Celebrities?"
Insider: "Sure."
Brean: "So well-known names?"
Insider: "Definitely."

He wouldn't name names. He believes these poker games are victimless crimes in a sense. The players are there voluntarily. He does think last week's shooting might attract a little more scrutiny from police.

We're told police are investigating the shooting but there have been no arrests. We asked police if they are investigating the poker games. RPD says it's not talking about the "particulars of the investigation."

The man shot last week, Vincent DeFranco, was arrested by the Rochester Police Department for promoting gambling in 2004. He received nine months in jail.

The New York State Gaming Commission says it just regulates the state-run gambling. It doesn't look at these types of incidents.

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