In a recent operation targeting illegal gambling, the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office announced the closure of several businesses and the seizure of numerous slot machines in a press release issued on Friday morning.
The two-month-long investigation focused on 53 game rooms and resulted in the closure of approximately 40% of the identified gambling establishments. Detectives also seized over $52,000 in illegal proceeds as a result of the operation.
Beginning in late May, deputies issued cease and desist letters to the targeted businesses, warning the owners of potential consequences, including up to five years in prison and fines of up to $10,000 per machine, for non-compliance with the law.
Following the delivery of these letters, approximately 40% of the businesses voluntarily shut down. However, those that refused to comply faced undercover operations conducted by detectives.
One of the game rooms subjected to undercover surveillance was Sizzling Sam’s Arcade located at 3126 1st Street West, according to the sheriff’s office. On June 20, undercover detectives entered the establishment and observed slot-machine-style gaming, providing them with probable cause to obtain a search warrant.
On July 13, detectives from the Intel and Strategic Unit executed the search warrant, resulting in the closure of Sizzling Sam’s Arcade and the collection of substantial evidence. A total of 69 individual gambling machines were seized, along with over $52,000 in illegal proceeds.
The sheriff’s office noted that Sizzling Sam’s had previously been notified of its violations by both the Manatee Sheriff’s Office and the Florida Gaming Control Commission prior to the raid.
During the operation, no customers or employees present at Sizzling Sam’s were arrested. However, the business owner is currently under investigation, and charges are pending.
The tweet below verifies the news:
53 game rooms targeted in illegal gambling crackdown by Manatee County sheriff https://t.co/sDs13NMxCe
— Michael Moore Jr. (@MikeWritesBH) July 14, 2023
Detectives also uncovered a separate scam in which individuals impersonate officials from the Florida Gaming Control Commission. The scammers approach business owners, demanding large fines in exchange for compliance and the reopening of their establishments.
The Manatee County Sheriff’s Office urges business owners to remain vigilant and report any suspicious activity or attempts to extort money in relation to gaming compliance. The investigation into the illegal gambling operations remains ongoing, and further updates will be provided as the case progresses.
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