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Georgia Authorities Send Illegal Gambling Message With Arrests

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It is legal for business owners to have video poker gambling machines, however, they cannot pay out cash in excess of $5. Prizes may be awarded such as store credit, but if the machine owner pays out over $5, it becomes illegal gambling.

Eleven people in the state learned that lesson the hard way on Thursday. Police arrested eleven people in a sting operation that spanned seven gas stations throughout Effington County, Georgia.

"These were the stores that didn't do what they were supposed to do. We may go three or four months and try this again. So if you're not doing what you're supposed to do then you need to wake up and start doing it," said Effington County Sheriff Jimmy McDuffie.

Sheriff McDuffie was referring to a six month investigation that had taken place in which undercover officers went to all gas stations in the county that had the gambling machines. Of all the stations they observed, the seven involved in the sting were the only ones that were paying out their customers in cash.

The operations were classified as large by the authorities. The machines were confiscated and police also seized a half of a million dollars from the locations.

The gas stations were back open shortly after police shut them down to carry out the raid. The police warned, however, that if the illegal gambling returned, so too would they. They threatened that next time they came back to the stations they would seize the entire businesses, not just cash and the illegal machines.

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