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Saturday, December 8th, 2007

Vid Poker Bust

Written by Tom Somach in Poker News

Authorities in the Chicago area announced Thursday that they had busted 11 local businesses for illegal gambling and had seized 32 illegal video poker marchines.

According to a news release by the Cook County Sherriff’s Office: “A crackdown on illegal gambling culminated Wednesday night with the seizure of nearly three dozen video poker machines and more than $5,200 in cash from businesses throughout the west and south suburbs, Cook County Sheriff Thomas J. Dart said Thursday.

“The operation, which began in late September, focused on businesses, primarily bars and lounges, which had video poker machines and paid players based on the number of points they accumulated while gambling on the machines. Undercover Sheriff’s Police vice officers posing as customers, played the machines and received payouts ranging between $20 and $50.

“Last night’s raids targeted 11 different establishments, many of which were placed under surveillance by the Sheriff’s Police after complaints from local law enforcement and the public, including one call to the Cook County Sheriff’s Police Vice Unit detailing how a family member had gambled away nearly $60,000 over the last year on the machines at one of the taverns. In another instance, a woman contacted the Sheriff’s Police and told an officer her husband routinely loses his weekly paycheck gambling on the machines.

“Gambling is far from a victimless crime as these stories can attest,” Sheriff Dart said. “It should be noted video poker has been called the crack cocaine of gambling because of its easy accessibility to the public and the rapid pace of the game.”=9D

“In addition to seizing 32 video poker machines and cash, police found betting slips and football pools at several bars. At Dino’s Pub in Chicago Heights, Ill., police recovered a loaded .357 Smith & Wesson handgun in an office desk drawer.

“At another location, D’Arcy Lynn’s, a Lyons, Ill. diner, the poker machines were grouped together in a back room where patrons could sit and play. A buzzer located in the room allowed the gamblers to summons a waitress when they wanted to order food by pressing the buzzer once, or they could get paid out on the machines by buzzing twice, at which point the restaurant’s cook would emerge to make a payout.”

(E-mail Tom Somach at [email protected].)

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