Treasure Bay Arcade raided, 2nd illegal gambling establishment closed in 12 days
The Treasure Bay Arcade was raided Tuesday night, the second time in less than two weeks an illegal gambling establishment has been shut down.
The St. Lucie County Sheriff's Office raided the place at 6623 U.S. 1 in Fort Pierce.
Authorities plan to charge 17 people with gambling and the owner with 51 charges of operating a slot machine illegally.
A WFLX news crew got a look inside the closed arcade.
There’s a sign saying if the machine malfunctions, there’s no refund.
Additional signs tell players to bet high, play high, cash out.
Those signs talking about cash and payouts are a sign of illegal activity, Sheriff Ken Mascara told WPTV reporter Ethan Stein.
According to Florida State Statute 849.08, anyone who plays or engages in any game of cards, keno, roulette, faro or other game of chance at any place, by any device whatever, for money or other thing of value shall be guilty of a misdemeanor of the second degree.
Mascara said authorities have begun to go after these arcades now because it has the capability to prove in court these accusations after going into machines and pulling out evidence like cash.
"We’ve acted on their tutelage and we know we have train staff who can take the insides out of this machine and tell you what exactly went in and what went out," the sheriff said.
He said this arcade tried to hide it was operating, including turning off the lights, letting few people inside and an armed guard was posted.
They plan to raid one illegal arcade each week, Mascara said.
Twelve days ago on Sept. 14, the sheriff's office executed a search warrant at Rio Arcade on U.S. 1, and seized more than 100 machines. Thirty to 40 people were arrested.
In May, deputies raided Midway Arcade at 4986 25th St. in Fort Pierce. At that time, Sheriff Ken Mascara said there were about 50 arcades still operating illegal gambling machines along U.S .1.
The arcades are among about 25 in the county.
The State Attorney’s Office for Martin, St. Lucie and Indian River counties told WFLX gambling has pretty much always been illegal in Florida in some form or another, but last year, there was a new bill passed that made investigating and prosecuting illegal gambling outside of specific places. At that time, Gov. Ron Desantis established the Florida Gaming Control Commission to help crack down on illegal gambling.
In other terms, while there are a number of places in Florida where gambling is legal, outside of those, it is illegal to have a slot machine. None of the designated locations for gambling are located on the Treasure Coast.
WFLX asked Mascara: What happens if someone didn’t know gambling was illegal? “We have tried to tell you and educate you about the law, and that this day is coming,” Mascara said.
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