Illegal Gambling Operation Shutdown

Friday, March 9th 2007, 1:13 pm
By: News On 6

Its game over after the state busts an illegal gambling operation. Dozens of officers from Sapulpa, Creek County and the state's ABLE Commission formed a joint task forced that stormed one of the most surprising of targets. The News On 6’s Joshua Brakhage was there, he reports authorities got the jackpot they were banking on, eight electronic gambling machines, all inside a locked room at Sapulpa's VFW hall.

A month long undercover sting came to an end on Friday. Officers from Oklahoma's Alcoholic Beverages Laws Enforcement Commission, or ABLE, sent someone inside the VFW hall, they say people were being buzzed into a back room where the machines were set up.

"It's like they realize this is something they shouldn't be up to, right?" asked News On 6 reporter Joshua Brakhage.

"Well, you wouldn't put a buzzer on a door if you thought it was okay for them to go in there," ABLE Commission Assistant Director HT Scott said.

But it is okay to own the machines, as long as they're just for amusement only. ABLE officers say it's when VFW workers paid out for big time winners that they broke the law.

"Unless they're a tribal casino, it's illegal to gamble,” said Scott. “What happens is you give your place a black eye it doesn't need, simply by trying to make extra money with illegal gambling."

ABLE commission officers say it's still to early to tell how much money the illegal machines were bringing in, or how much folks at the VFW were paying out.

All the machines seized on Friday were tagged with current city and state tax stamps, which goes to show it’s not illegal to play, just illegal to cash in.

ABLE officers said the players will most likely not face any penalties, but VFW management could. The Creek County District Attorney will decide if the crime warrants fines and a misdemeanor charge, or if it's a felony commercial gambling operation which could come with prison time.