More than sixty gaming devices similar to slot machines were seized this week at more than forty separate businesses, in a crack down on gambling related crime that targeted the use of illegal machines. Though the words “for amusement only” were pasted onto the machines, it seems as though the credits earned through them could be exchanged for cash within the business, which is against the law and will now be duly investigated.
It was the results of what must have been a long term enquiry that brought state and federal investigators to serve search warrants at all of the properties, which included gas stations, markets, bars, and convenience stores. This is a widespread crack down across Arizona, from Surprise to Mesa to Phoenix, and any other stores that stock these machines would be well advised to do away with them immediately.
They do not look high tech when you see them, but according to the Arizona Department of Gaming they are capable of bringing in fair amounts of cash. The Director of the department, Mark Brnovich, explained how they work: “The machine itself wouldn’t pay out, but players or patrons would accumulate points and go to the owner or whoever was working at the convenience store and be paid out based on the credits they accumulated on the devices,” he told reporters in a press conference to discuss the raids. As well as the slot machine games they also seized coin pusher machines, all of which contained cash as proof of the illegal activities that had been going on concerning them. In one of the machines more than $1600 was found, showing just how effective they are at bringing in the customers.
It is believed that a criminal enterprise was moving the machines into the state in order to make a profit from them, with the stores agreeing to split the profits in exchange for being given the machines. “I think the public has a strong appetite for gambling and what we’ve seen here in the last few years is a dramatic increase in the number of illegal gambling devices within our community. Would it surprise me there are more illegal gambling devices out there? No,” said Brnovich. It is clear that a stronger stance needs to be taken on the matter of these machines: there were no arrests made this time around, but the Attorney General is reviewing the case.