State and federal agents seized about 400 video gambling machines from locations across northeastern Pennsylvania as part of a two-year probe of illicit gaming, officials announced Thursday.
Authorities raided 187 businesses in Luzerne, Lackawanna, Susquehanna and Wayne counties after the investigation revealed that illegal gambling payouts had been made to undercover officers, according to state police.
A majority of the confiscated machines were illegal anyway because they didn’t operate “on true odds like a legitimate gambling device,” police Sgt. James Jones said. Instead, they were programmed to retain a certain percentage of revenue, he said.
“You could be the luckiest person in the world, but over time these machines will always take your money,” Jones told The Associated Press.
The ongoing investigation is being led by the state police’s Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement and the Internal Revenue Service.
Charges are expected to be filed against the unnamed vendor who supplied most of the devices as well as various bars that offered the games, police said.
Officers from multiple agencies had been seen hauling away the gambling machines during coordinated seizures on Wednesday. But officials had refused to comment at that time.
At the Town Tavern in Nanticoke, former Mayor John Bushko watched on Wednesday as an officer wheeled out four poker machines from the bar, which is owned by his wife.
Bushko told The Times-Leader of Wilkes-Barre that the machines are owned by a vending company with whom his wife splits the revenues.
“The machines just make about $30 a week. The casino takes all the business,” Bushko said, referring to The Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs in Plains Township. “Twenty years ago, they used to do really good. Now they don’t.”
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