NORTH VERNON — State excise police burst into a North Vernon tavern Tuesday night to break up an illegal poker game.
Three officers participated in the 7 p.m. raid at Players Bar and Grill, 424 O&M Ave., according to Lt. Brian Lang of the Indiana State Excise Police. He said about 60 patrons were present at the time of the raid.
The raid was prompted by a complaint of illegal gambling at the downtown establishment, located only a block east of the North Vernon Police Department, Lang said.
Two gambling violations discovered were outlined by Lang:
- The bar was charging patrons to buy into Texas hold ’em poker. While the card game itself is legal, state law does not permit establishments to charge gamblers admission or a “buy-in” fee to play on their premises.
- A jackpot of more than $1,400 was being advertised by the bar. State law limits the amount of a jackpot offered by an establishment with a Type 2 gaming license to a maximum of $300.
Through the course of the investigation, $720 was seized as evidence of illegal gambling, Lane said. However, the nature of the three charges against tavern owner Justyn Holwadel will be administrative or civil, rather than criminal, Lang said.
He said that Holwadel could be ordered to pay a maximum fine of $1,000 per count for each of the three charges:
- Creating a public nuisance (by promoting illegal gambling).
- Failure to maintain a high and fine reputation.
- Violations of a Type 2 gaming license.
The matter of guilt or innocence will be determined by the Indiana Alcohol and Tobacco Administration in Indianapolis, rather than by a traditional judge or jury, Lang said.