Florida Sees Slots, Illegal Gambling Equipment Seized In Multiple Raids
Posted on: September 20, 2019, 03:23h.
Last updated on: September 20, 2019, 09:24h.
Escambia County Florida authorities seized some 100 slot machines and various online gaming equipment during court-ordered searches of three businesses on Thursday, according to news reports.
As of Friday, no arrests had been made as a result of the illegal gambling. But some charges are possible for the operation run in the westernmost county in the state.
The slots and gambling computers were seen getting taken out of one of the businesses — Oasis Bar and Hookah Lounge on Mobile Highway — by officials on Thursday night, reports said. They were then placed in a semi-truck before being hauled away, WEAR-TV said.
Vant Bryant, who was identified by WEAR as the owner of the nearby Hypnotize Kutz Barber Shop, told the station, “I see there’s a lot of machines being taken out. I was, like — man — that was a baby casino, with all the machines they [were] pulling out.”
Florida Assistant State Attorney John Molchan was quoted by the station. “They are basically slot machines and internet gambling computers that are present inside the establishment…. We view this as a significant development.”
Following the search, Molchan told the Pensacola News Journal that “no hookahs were found inside. It was filled with slot machines and other online games. It was an old sign.”
The other two businesses were a possible medical supply store on 9th Avenue and an unidentified establishment on Chief’s Way, the station reported. The medical supply store displayed a sign outside that read “American Home Patient” and the Chief’s Way business may have offered tax assistance to consumers, the News Journal said.
The searches stemmed from an inquiry into suspected illegal gambling in the county. Several law enforcement agencies were involved in the investigation.
Molchan declined to identify any connection among the three businesses. Next, authorities will work on identifying who ran these alleged illegal gambling operations.
Molchan said they want to answer such questions as, “Who’s responsible for the working operations? Who funded it? Where are the proceeds going?”
Racetrack Bingo Owners Convicted
Also, in March owners of Racetrack Bingo in Fort Walton Beach were ordered to forfeit $6 million to the federal government. They were convicted of operating an illegal gambling business that bilked local charities out of $8 million over eight years.
Currently, there are racecourses and tribal gaming venues where gambling is allowed in the state. But in May, the Seminole tribe of Florida announced it has stopped paying $350 million a year in revenue-share payments to the state.
Seminole tribal chairman Marcellus Osceola Jr. said the tribe would reconsider payments if the state is able to resolve the issue related to banked games by parimutuels. Specifically, if the state were to eliminate player-designated games from racetracks and other parimutuel venues, the Seminoles might reconsider their position.
The Seminoles agreed to a revenue-sharing plan in 2010 in return for exclusivity on banked games like blackjack, but have argued that the player-designated games breach the deal. The tribe operates Florida’s Hard Rock-branded casinos.
Proposed Tribal Compact Fails to Get Legislative Approval
In April, state Senate Republicans negotiated a new draft compact deal that included sports betting, roulette, and craps. But state lawmakers ran out of time to get it approved.
Elsewhere in Florida, Genting Berhad wants to build the state’s first legal commercial casino in the Miami area.