Akron Police Seize Guns, Fentanyl During Illegal Gambling Raid

Written By Brian Cross on June 9, 2023
Ohio Illegal Gambling

Akron Police served a search warrant this week related to an investigation into illegal gambling.

Officers reportedly found over $18,000 in cash, an AR-15 style rifle and handguns in an illegal gambling establishment.

Despite the growth of legal Ohio gambling options in recent years, authorities continue to investigate and prosecute illegal gambling across the state.

Akron police investigate illegal gambling, find guns, money

Akron Police executed a search warrant on Wednesday at an establishment in the 1000 block of Kenmore Boulevard, according to the Akron Beacon-Journal.

Police arrested five people for charges including gambling and operating a gambling house, plus possession of drugs and drug paraphernalia. Another individual was arrested on an unrelated outstanding warrant.

WKYC reports that police recovered motherboards from around 40 gambling machines, along with nearly half a gram of fentanyl.

According to WKYC, three people were charged with gambling and operating a gambling house: Kyle Brown, 27, Leonard Cross IV, 23, and Davontae James, 30. Michael Walsh, 37, was charged with possession of drugs and drug paraphernalia; and Beth Ison, 33, was arrested on the outstanding warrant.

Second Akron illegal gambling incident this week

On Monday, Akron Police responded to a shooting at another suspected illegal gambling operation, this one at the Royal Queens Party Center on Brown Street.

Police were called after a 16-year-old was shot after allegedly attempting to rob the establishment.

According to police, the teen was shot during a struggle over his own gun after brandishing it and trying to rob the place. He was taken to the hospital and later charged with aggravated robbery and aggravated assault.

After police arrived, the gambling operation’s 19-year-old manager and the 34-year-old man who leases the building arrived on the scene and were arrested. Both were charged with operating a gambling house.

Unlicensed gambling houses in Ohio are nothing new

Illegal gambling is not a new issue in Ohio. A search for “illegal gambling” on Ohio news websites brings up examples dating years back. Some unlicensed gambling parlors operate in plain view, and other illegal operations are hidden.

Last year police seized illegal gambling machines and made arrests in Pataskala and Springfield. In 2021, News 5 Cleveland visited so-called “skill game” parlors in Medina, Akron and Mentor-on-the-Lake and found patrons playing video slot machines and winning cash.

At that time, the Ohio Casino Control Commission‘s Andromeda Morrison said those businesses are operating illegally. Morrison is the OCCC’s director of skill games, which are legal and regulated by the Commission. By Ohio law, monetary payouts are illegal on skill games, and the games must have an actual element of skill to them.

An update to a tax law could steer patrons away from illegal gambling

Lawmakers in Nevada and Pennsylvania recently reintroduced legislation they say will help steer people away from the illegitimate betting houses. The new legislation is an update to the SLOT Act, which sets the threshold for when a casino patron is required to report a big win on a casino game to the IRS.

Proponents say the current threshold of $1,200 slows down casinos and impedes patrons from playing the slots freely. When a casino patron hits a prize of $1,200 or more, the casino has to temporarily suspend the game and the patron is required to fill out a tax form. U.S. Rep Dina Titus (D-NV) says the low threshold for reporting encourages gamblers to seek out the illegal unregulated options.

Titus says slot machine prizes of $1,200-plus are much more frequent today than in the past. The SLOT Act was passed in 1977, and the threshold has never been updated or adjusted for inflation. The $1,200 threshold in 1977 is equivalent to more than $5,000 today.

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Brian Cross

Brian Cross contributes sports betting, casino and lottery coverage to PlayOhio and PlayPennsylvania. Brian studied Professional Writing and Journalism at the University of Cincinnati and has been a contributing writer at Cincinnati’s alt-weekly for over 10 years.

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