Cash payouts from gambling machines are illegal in Georgia, as seven businesses in the Thomaston area found out Monday. Thomaston Police, assisted by agents of the Georgia Bureau of Investigations and investigators from the Georgia Lottery Corporation, staged raids on the businesses and confiscated $60,000 in cash allegedly being used to pay for gambling machine wins. Warrants for Commercial Gambling are being sought against both owners and clerks.
Gambling machines are leased through the Georgia Lottery Corporation and payouts are only allowed to be in the form of store merchandise, gas, and/or lottery tickets.
According to Thomaston Police Lieutenant Andrew Pippin, the investigation into the alleged illegal gambling has been going on for several months and was based on numerous complaints.
It’s illegal to pay out,” Pippin said. “They operate under certain codes and there are a lot of businesses that have to abide by the law and run the business the right way. You’ve got some businesses that are struggling, and some are still operating a gambling establishment. We’re just trying to take a stance on cleaning up some of these areas that continue to be a problem. “
The seven stores involved in the raid were Handi Mart on East Walker Street, Best Value on South Church Street, Northside Shell on Highway 19 North, Mini Mouth Foods on South Center Street, Mr. B’s on North Center Street, Main Street Billiards on East Main Street, and 7-11 Grocery on Barnesville Street.
Lt. Pippin said as of Thursday morning, interviews with the store personnel were still be conducted, and that warrants for Commercial Gambling would be sought against at least 10 people, with more arrests possible in the future.
He added that starting this month, the Georgia Lottery will have a better idea of what the machines are taking in and what the Lottery should be receiving.
“Starting July 1, all those machines have to be hooked up to the Georgia Lottery server, so the Lottery can see what goes in them and there will be a better way to track them,” Pippin said. “ t had been under an honor system – you tell us how much you got out of that machine, then pay us 5 or 10 percent, whatever the Lottery was getting. This way, they’ll be able to get a better idea of what the machines are actually taking in.”
Larry Stanford may be reached at 706-647-5414 or on Twitter @LarryStanford7.