State agents recently raided a restaurant suspected of allowing illegal gambling to take place in Avon Lake, Ohio, just west of Cleveland.
A search warrant was served at an establishment called Dogg House Bar and Grill, and four gambling machines were seized.
There are seven legal casinos and racinos in Ohio. Gambling on machines outside the casinos and racinos or online is prohibited in Ohio.
Undercover agents visited Dogg House three times before raid
According to The Morning Journal, the Ohio Department of Public Safety’s Investigative Unit uncovered a suspected illegal operation by sending in undercover agents to the Dogg House on three different occasions. Agents investigated the restaurant for two weeks.
On Oct. 20, Oct. 27 and Nov. 3, undercover officials were able to confirm that they had the ability to gamble on illegal machines at the Dogg House, located at 33475 Lake Road. On Nov. 8, Cook signed the warrant to search the Dogg House.
Machines spit out tickets with winning amounts to cash
An undercover agent played a slot-style game at the Dogg House on Oct. 20 called Pick a Pot and won $37, according to The Morning Journal. Then on Oct. 27, another agent played the Lucky Striker slot machine game and won $24.
On the same day, a different agent played a slot-style game called Full Moon Fever and won $117.40.
After each win, agents printed out tickets showing how much they had won, and members of the bar staff paid them out after taking the tickets to an office and returning with the winnings in cash.
More than $1,000 in cash found in machines
In total, four illegal gaming machines were confiscated and at least $1,000 in cash. Agents found three slot machine-style gambling devices and one machine that provided multiple options such as poker, keno and other games.
In total, $1,098 in cash was recovered from the machines. Tickets from the machines, as well as any gambling records found on the premises, were confiscated as evidence.
All four of the machines in question are deemed illegal because they are not by definition “skill-based amusement devices.” In addition, none of the machines were licensed by the Ohio Casino Control Commission, which also invalidates the machines.
There are still hurdles to overcome before any charges are brought. It is not clear which county will prosecute or when charges could be levied. There have been no arrests. State agent Kevin Piazza said the raid is just part of a broader investigation.
“We are just waiting to consult with the prosecutor to file charges. We are working a bigger case with this.”
Raids in Texas have uncovered organized crime activities
In Texas, there have been issues with organized crime using these gambling operations as a hub for other illegal activity, such as the distribution of drugs and weapons, prostitution and the storing of stolen items.
Recently, a raid of three illegal gambling rooms in west Texas led to the seizure of stolen weapons, stolen cars, drugs and a massive amount of cash in addition to the illegal gambling machines.
Hockley County Sheriff Ray Scifres said after the raids in Texas that illegal gambling was just one concern.
“We have been saying that these are a safe haven … for folks who engage in criminal activity. And it ranges from narcotics trafficking, narcotics possession, weapons trafficking, weapons possession. So, the importance of it is not just the gambling operations. It is what it allows.”