LA City Councilman accused of trading casino chips for influence

One of regulated gambling’s selling points is that casinos, and other regulated operators, can act as the eyes and ears for law enforcement when it come to suspicious actions. For example, let’s say that a man repeatedly walked into a big Las Vegas casino to cash in piles of chips, but he doesn’t really gambler there. That’s kind of a red flag, right?

Where’s he getting all these chips from? Maybe he’s accepting payment for goods and services from a person who happens to be flush in chips? Or maybe you’re a public official who’s been accepting chips from various entities in exchange for influence? That latter scenario is the one that the Department of Justice is leveling at Los Angeles City Councilman Jose Huizar.

Huizar, who has been on the Council for 15 years, is accused of taking a variety of items of value, including casino chips, free stays at hotels, and other perks, in exchange for letting land developers have an easy ride through City Hall. Huizar’s alleged bribery was undone when authorities in Las Vegas let their counterparts in LA know that the Councilman had been through Vegas cashing in chips. That flagged him for an investigation that culminated with Huizar’s being charged with racketeering by the DOJ. This according to a press release from the City of Los Angeles.

If convicted on all charges, the Councilman faces as much as 20 years in prison. The lesson here is, don’t accept bribes, and if you really must and you’re taking casino chips as part of the bribe, at least play a few hands of blackjack to avoid drawing attention to yourself. Those regulated gambling operators are sticklers for the rules after all.