Gambling in Amarillo

You saw it on NewsChannel 10 Sunday night, the Colts beat the Bears to become the Super Bowl Kings of 2007.

Chances are you or someone you know bet on the big game even though it is illegal in Texas. But there are people in Amarillo who still roll the dice no matter how high the stakes.

NewsChannel 10's Blaire Arvin investigated high stakes gambling under the radar in Amarillo and this is what she found out.

The cards are on the table and when it comes to big games like the Super Bowl, betting is in the spotlight.  Scores of people are rolling the dice and making big illegal wagers.  Whether the bets are placed by back-street bookies or out in public, it's all illegal.

One man, "Jerry," who is dealing with a gambling addiction tells NewsChannel 10 that this kind of betting is "a lose, lose situation," and he knows that first hand.

Big time gambling almost ruined "Jerry's" life and he's still battling with the addiction. "It gives me a high.  It gave me a high," says "Jerry".

But he's not the only one.  NewsChannel 10 also tracked down several other people in Amarillo with gambling problems, but "Jerry" wanted to speak out.

He says he started gambling young. It was innocent, but then it "just continuously got worse."

Like a game of Monopoly, gamblers are putting it all on the line, hoping to come out with more. But for a lot of them, including "Jerry," in the end they wind up in the hole, or with nothing at all.

"Jerry" says: "I was about $115,000 in debt from gambling. It cost me my family and my wife."

Amarillo police hear stories just like this.  Lt. Erick Bohannon says his unit is tasked with investigating gambling cases. probing the crime... When tips come in.

Some gamblers are easier to track down because they flaunt their houses for poker games, but others aren't so easy to catch according to the police.  That doesn't mean officers are not up to the challenge.

Lt. Bohannon says: "There's always a possibility that we could be out looking our ownselves to see what's going on."

They're discovering what's going on in a $40 billion per year industry in the US and an industry that's illegal in Texas but continues to win people over.

"Jerry" says he will probably think about it until the day he dies, especially during big betting times like now.

"There's going to be a lot of money lost, families torn up, houses lost, cars lost, jobs lost...It's gonna cost them," says "Jerry." "I guarantee it."

The punishment for gambling depends on the height of the crime.  As for "Jerry," he's started a support group.