City Sues to Shutter Bernal Heights Gambling Parlor


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 Chronicle has the story:

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.

23 thoughts on “City Sues to Shutter Bernal Heights Gambling Parlor

  1. interesting -I pass this location at 5:45am – usually i see fidgety looking characters coming and going-i thought it was a flop house that the city had turned a blind eye to because the activity was so blatant.

  2. Whatta country.(Actually its probably just San Francisco) Where you can continue to run an illegal gaming operation for years and just get some minor write ups every year or so.
    How the hell is there not a padlock on the front door with a no trespass sign? Ever seen a company not pay their taxes? They are shut down so fast. Have rodents in your food prep areas? Shut-down.

  3. Oh man, why don’t I ever find out about all the good stuff until after it gets closed down??!!


  4. It’s funny how people wax nostalgic for the days of Prohibition, open gambling, the Barbary Coast, speakeasies, brothels, etc., but don’t want them in real life.

  5. Tangentially, does anyone know—and I’m not suggesting it’s something nefarious—what “The Mission Clinic” on Mission and Powers? (The building has those fake doors painted on the side) In 4 years I’ve never seen the door open.

    • Worse than gamblers being exploited. Worse than drugs. Worse than women being coerced into prostitution, the REAL problem with gambling dens is that they tie up parking spaces….

  6. I am SO glad to hear this place is finally closing down. I live within a block of it and it has been at the heart if so many problems in our neighborhood the past few years. For you folks who seem sad it’s closing down, go see if they’ll set up shop within a block from you, your neighbors will be delighted!

    • What kind of problems are you talking about? How many years? What kind of evidence do you have? I’ve looked at the crime report breakdown and didn’t see anything out of the ordinary given the neighborhood in general. It seemed that there are far more problems happening in the Safeway parking lot.

      • Good one Dave, that should be our little corner of the neighborhood’s motto ‘Kingston and Mission, safer than the Safeway Parking lot!’. Though I’m not sure all would agree, it’s close enough that few would object.

  7. Pingback: Your Bernal Heights Crime Summary for February 2015: Robberies and Assaults Down, Gambling in Crosshairs & When to Call the SFPD | Bernalwood

  8. re the corner of powers and mission – “mission clinic” 3177-3179 Mission St
    we have been wondering about that property for a very long time. previous business was a corner store. never see anyone in there and don’t see anyone going in or out. the boys who live in the apts upstairs painted the powers side of the bldg and they keep it pretty free from graffiti…can’t find anything online about the mission clinic altho there’s tons of stuff about clinics in the mission. i’d like to know what type of business it is. bad enough we have the one and only gun store in san francisco right there.

    • Cool to know the people upstairs are maintain that mural, always wondered how it stayed so clean.
      I’m right behind the gun store and it doesn’t bother me, they’ve always been good neighbors.

  9. Pingback: Your Bernal Heights Crime Report for March 2015: Burglars Burgling, Lots of Auto Break-Ins, and Shotwell Stairs Can Be Sketchy | Bernalwood

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