The problem with illegal gambling parlors isn’t just the gambling; it’s the general nuisance and unpleasantness they create. Neighbors in the SFPD’s Ingleside Precinct have been grumbling for many months about a string of illegal gambling parlors along Mission Street. Yesterday, the City moved to shut down one of them, right in the heart of La Lengua, at 3437 Mission, at the corner of Kingston.
The Kingston Shack, between Kingston Street and Cortland Avenue, “is an old-school operation, with real slot machines,” said Jennifer Choi, the deputy city attorney handling the case. With no signs outside, “It was like the old speakeasies, where people would knock on the door, someone would look out through a peephole and let you in if they knew you.”
According to the suit, the gambling operation began in 2010. It was busted in 2011, 2013 and again last December, when police confiscated 11 slot machines, Choi said. But since the operators only faced misdemeanor charges and fines for possession of the illegal slot machines, they were soon open for action once again, she said.
“It’s a very lucrative business,” Choi said. “They’re not going to stop.”
It’s also a very dangerous business, both for the patrons and the surrounding neighborhood. Choi said police have documented at least one stabbing inside Kingston Shack, a carjacking outside that led to a high-speed chase through the city, and stolen cars parked outside while the thieves gambled.
The suit names Marlene Cruz, Norma Estrada and John Gregory Ibarra as owners or operators and Lien Sheng Ho and Jian Rong Ma as trustees of the trust that owns the property. If successful, the city’s suit under the state’s Red Light Abatement Act could shutter the property for a year and hit each of the defendants with $25,000 fines and additional civil penalties.