by Meaghan Lyver, Communications Intern, Massachusetts Council on Compulsive Gambling
A fact sheet recently posted by Havoscope states that currently in the U.S. $99 out of every $100 wagered on sports betting is illegally placed. According to the American Gaming Association, the FBI estimates that more than $2.5 billion is illegally wagered annually on the March Madness basketball tournament. Over the past few months, a number of raids have been conducted throughout the country where police are cracking down on illegal gambling and seizing illegal gambling machines.
The largest raid of the week happened in Tift County, Georgia. According to the article “GBI conducts gambling raid in Tift County,” police obtained several search warrants to raid 18 different locations. The locations consisted of offices, storage units, convenience stores, and homes. Police seized over 100 illegal gambling machines and made 5 arrests. Although gambling itself isn’t illegal in Georgia, a cash payout with the machines is. Machine operators were accused of paying users out in cash when they were really supposed to be paying them out with a store credit or scratch tickets.
In an article by CBS San Francisco, there is a story about another establishment that also faces charges due to illegal gambling, “Brisbane Bar’s Liquor License Suspended After Illegal Gambling Uncovered.” Although the article doesn’t give much detailed information, this raid comes just days before the Georgia raid occurred. Customers of the bar were using it as an “internet café.” They would go to the bar and use the computers to gamble with a credit card. The article states, “The computers qualify as illegal slot machines or devices.”
Similarly, Marina Restaurant and Bar in Rochester, NY, is now under fire after 3 men were arrested and arraigned on 23 counts for illegally running a sports betting scheme. An article released by the Democrat & Chronicle says that the restaurant wasn’t suspicious of any illegal activity. However it was used for illegal betting and money laundering. When 2 of the 3 men were arrested from their homes authorities recovered over $80,000 in gambling proceeds. According a press release from the FBI, if convicted the men could be in prison anywhere from 5-20 years. The restaurant was temporally closed during the raid, but it is now up and running while the 3 men await trial.
It is very easy to get sucked into illegal betting and gambling and it could have a major impact on an individual’s life. The Massachusetts Council on Gaming and Health is neither for nor against legalized gambling and casinos. We are a neutral organization that was established to help those seeking gambling-related assistance. Though our organization is against illegal gambling, we like to keep readers up to date on different gambling-related stories. If you or a loved one is experiencing problems with gambling-related issues, please call us at 617-426-1234 or visit our website at www.masscompulsivegambling.org where we have a 24/7 chat available.