WILKES-BARRE, PA -- Pennsylvania state police and IRS agents seized about 400 video pokers and a "significant" amount of cash during Oct. 3 raids on 187 locations in Luzerne, Lackawanna, Susquehanna and Wayne counties, including three storage buildings in Nanticoke.
Nearly 125 Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement officers joined an unspecified number of state troopers and Internal Revenue Service agents in the raids; all three organizations are cooperating in a probe.
Police said the state expects to file misdemeanor charges and liquor license violation charges against owners of bars, private clubs, smoke shops and Laundromats.
Criminal charges are possible for at least one vendor who supplied most of the equipment, officials said. Tax code violations and money laundering charges are also under investigation.
Authorities said the raids were the latest result of a multiyear undercover investigation into illegal gambling. They estimate that some 17,000 illegal video pokers have been operating in Pennsylvania for many years.
Pennsylvania lawmakers voted to legalize casino gambling in the Keystone State in 2009. That same year, State Rep. Curt Schroder (R-Chester), who chaired the House Gaming Oversight Committee, asked the FBI to target what he said was widespread tax evasion by participants in the state's "gray" poker market.
Schroder also requested enforcement action against gray pokers by U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, Pennsylvania's three U.S. Attorneys, Pennsylvania Attorney General Tom Corbett and the state revenue secretary.
In May 2011, the FBI arrested nearly a dozen members of an organized crime group, unsealing a 50-count indictment on illegal gambling charges. | SEE STORY