Police saw cards and chips in play a nine-person poker game underway Robert MacArthur at the table.
"I'm saying its only a poker game."
According to police paperwork officers had MacArthur's place under heavy surveillance, taking down license plates and using confidential informants. Investigators say the Beverly landlord -who did time on a drug rap in the 90's - is hosting illegal poker games.
State police wouldn't talk on camera but told us: "Evidence indicates this was not a friendly neighborhood card game among buddies, but rather, that gambling at that location is a longstanding, high-stakes, organized event."
Officers say they seized about 6000 dollars, cards, chips and ledger books...and allege Macarthur hired employees to serve alcohol and provide security.
MacArthur told us his unrented apartment is a place where his pals can play several times a week and his girlfriend won't complain. He insists he's doing nothing wrong.
"It doesn't matter if it's one dollar or ten thousand dollars, there's nothing illegal going on here."
MacArthur pleaded not guilty in Salem district court. He insists his poker buddies are just practicing to play in tournaments. His lawyer thinks this is a pivotal case.
Atty. John Lalikos, McArthur's lawyer
"I know there are a lot of people that would be considered criminals if poker does in fact violate the statute."
Police tell us they break up what they suspect is illegal gambling in people's homes several times a year. MacArthur could be facing jail time.
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