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Georgia And Hawaii See Massive Sweeps And Gambling Raids; Ohio Game Operators Are Convicted

by Staff Reporter
Posted On: 3/23/2012

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ATLANTA, GA and HILO, HI -- The Georgia Bureau of Investigations said 43 of its agents raided a statewide chain of Internet sweepstakes cafés on March 13, targeting the chain's owner-operator, Big Dawg Phone Card Games.

The company's owner and two managers have been arrested and charged with racketeering under the state's Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), officials said.

Law enforcement officials seized more than $20,000 in cash along with computers from locations in Columbus, Doraville, Douglasville, Conyers and La Grange.

Prosecutors said citizen complaints about high losses triggered a months-long undercover investigation, which is ongoing. GBI officials said more than $3 million was deposited in company accounts a year.

The statewide raid is one of the latest -- and largest -- anti-sweeps enforcement actions since a crackdown on the sweeps market was announced in August 2011, by Gov. Nathan Deal, Attorney General Sam Olens and GBI director Vernon Keenan. | SEE STORY

In Hawaii, county police on March 2 arrested 13 people and seized $18,000 in cash along with 17 video gambling devices during raids on gambling rooms in Hilo and Kailua-Kona.

Operators and customers alike were arrested, held overnight and then released. The months-long investigation is ongoing, said authorities.

In Cleveland, six operators of Internet sweeps games stores were found guilty of first-degree misdemeanor gambling charges and possession of criminal tools on March 16.

The sweeps cafés were raided following an undercover investigation by detectives from the Cleveland Division of the State Police Intelligence Unit. During the raids, police seized more than 100 computers and over $10,000 in cash.