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Gambling Case Progresssing
Sunday, 21 March 2010

March 21--  It's been two weeks since area law enforcement cracked down on the illegal use of video poker machines at 29 convenience stores in Toombs and Emanuel counties. 

District Attorney Hayward Altman says the GBI has been processing evidence seized in the cases and has over 50 arrest warrants being prepared.  He reports hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash proceeds from the machines has also been confiscated.  In one case he said $36,000 was found in a bag concealed in the ceiling of a store and even larger amounts were found at other locations.

Vidalia Police Chief Frank Waits told the Vidalia Rotary Club that authorities have traced millions of dollars from the stores which were sent out of the country.

"From the information I have been receiving, I would say millions of dollars was leaving this area going to other countries.  This is money with no taxes being paid on it, nothing going back into the community.  This is money that's just going to another country.  Now, to finance what in another country, I'm not even going to speculate," Waits said.

According to the District Attorney, stores which re-open will be required to pay a fee based on proceeds they received from illegal gambling.  He says financial settlements will be conducted with each store before they can re-open.

Chief Waits says his department has video evidence of illegal activity in each of the stores in Vidalia and he's glad to see the stores shut down because of the harm they were causing.

"We got a call from one guy saying his mother was spending $600 to $800 a week on these video poker machines and he was having to cover her losses.  She was an elderly lady and she got addicted to the gambling of the video poker machines," he reports.

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