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Authorities seize area gambling machines

By Staff
GAMBLING RAID Robert Sharp, an officer with the Mississippi Gaming Commission, background, and Chief Deputy Mike Mitchell, of the Lauderdale County Sheriff's Department, investigate video slot machines at "Chicks" on Fifth street before seizing them. Photo by Paula Merritt / The Meridian Star
By Steve Gillespie / staff writer
June 5, 2002
More than 100 illegal video gambling machines were seized in Meridian and Lauderdale County on Tuesday by state and local law enforcement officers.
Video poker, video slot machines and other similar games were removed between 1 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. from 11 county and eight city businesses.
Three businesses were Chicks in Meridian, the Sportsman's Bar &Lounge in Meridian and The Body Shop in Lauderdale County. Names of the others were not available today.
State law makes it a misdemeanor offense to own an illegal gambling device. A second or subsequent charge is a felony offense.
The sheriff's department initiated an investigation into the illegal gambling devices more than two months ago with the East Mississippi Drug Task Force and the Gaming Commission.
Calhoun said the task force was involved because of the need for additional manpower.
Calhoun said the operation began based on citizen complaints, tips to CrimeStoppers and information gathered by road deputies. The machines, as well as any money in them, were seized.
Law officers look for three things to determine if a device is an illegal gambling machine: It must be a game of chance, it must take money, and the player must receive something greater than what he puts into the machine.
Calhoun said that patrons who played the machines seized in the Tuesday bust often converted credits won on the games for cash.
Calhoun said the Gaming Commission is billing the bust as the largest single roundup of these machines in Mississippi that has ever occurred with a local agency and the state working together.
He said the Gaming Commission will continue to monitor the area for illegal activity and the investigation will continue.
The results of Tuesday's seizure of illegal gaming devices were:
19 businesses in Meridian and Lauderdale County were entered.
111 machines were seized.