SHERIFF’S POLICE SEIZE 31 POKER MACHINES AMID ILLEGAL
Poker machines in gas stations new trend, police say
Saturday, January 31, 2009 — Cook County Sheriff’s Police vice officers fanned out across south suburban Cook County Saturday afternoon, confiscating 31 video poker machines, including some located in gas stations, in an effort to curb alleged illegal payouts being made by businesses, Sheriff Thomas J. Dart announced Saturday.
In all, vice officers confiscated video poker machines from 10 businesses (see attached listing) in Ford Heights, Markham, Midlothian, Chicago Ridge, Summit, Brookfield, McCook, Cicero and Justice and seized a combined $6,472 in cash from them.
Although the machines are clearly marked “For Amusement Only,” players are able to spend up to $20 at a time to play them. Once a player has accumulated a certain amount of points, an illegal cash payout is made by an employee of the business.
During this investigation, officers have found video poker machines located in gas stations and liquor stores, a first for the Sheriff’s Department. In one case, an undercover officer was awarded a store credit and in another, a gift card was given in lieu of a cash payout.
On Saturday afternoon when officers arrived at the Citgo Gas Station in Markham, they found a sign hung above the three machines there in plain view. It stated if a player accrued 500 points on the machine they would receive a $25 gas card. For 1,000 in points it was a $50 card and for 2,000 points, a $100 card.
“The fact that these machines are being found in such high traffic businesses such as gas stations and liquor stores marks the beginning of a dangerous new trend,” Sheriff Dart said. “People who may not normally frequent a bar and see a machine now are exposed when they stop for a newspaper or gallon of milk.”
“It shows how video poker machine dealers are now expanding their customer base to reach more than just bar patrons,” the Sheriff added.
During the three-month investigation, undercover vice officers also received cash payouts ranging between $10 and $50. Those employees making the payouts will each face one charge of misdemeanor gambling and be required to pay a $100 bond. Although none were arrested Saturday, the offenders were notified by Sheriff’s Police to turn themselves in to police within the next three days.
If convicted, those charged could face a maximum fine of $1,000 and a year in jail.