CPD still finding illegal gambling machines in the city - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina |

CPD still finding illegal gambling machines in the city

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This is just one machine hauled off during a raid conducted by the Richland County Sheriff's Department. This is just one machine hauled off during a raid conducted by the Richland County Sheriff's Department.
COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) -

At least 10 Columbia business owners have gambled and lost after getting caught with what police say are illegal gaming machines.

In the last month, the city has seized 20 machines worth more than $50,000 dollars and nearly a $1,000 in cash.

With the confusion in the law over which machines are illegal ironed out this year by the state legislature, Columbia Police are hopeful the charges made in these most recent cases make their way through the courts.

"South Carolina has made it very clear that these machines, the specific ones that are gaming machines that are illegal -- we have to enforce that law," said CPD Interim Chief Ruben Santiago.

Four businesses became police targets, including Greene's Bar-B-Q on Farrow Road, a nail salon on Two Notch and two businesses on the Millwood Road. It was complaints made to Columbia police that led officers to find the machines, in one case, a citizen still playing.

"These are tips that are given to us by concerned citizens," said Santiago.

Officers are getting a heads up from city inspectors as well. They on the look out for these machines when they're inside these businesses for other reasons.

"The hospitality team is made up of a fire marshal, police officers, business licensing, and zoning and codes," said Santiago.

In the last month, those inspections have resulted in raids at seven businesses in May. The effort to crack down has taken some education on the Police Department's part.

"It's a challenge in that law enforcement has to be educated in what illegal gaming machines look like," said Santiago.

Ultimately it's up to the magistrate to determine if the machines are illegal. The charges are just a misdemeanor, resulting in a court summons and if guilty a fine. Columbia Police say this investigation continues.

"We're looking for patterns and clusters to see where the machines are coming from, find out with interviews from the owners what brought them to have these machines in the first place," said Santiago.

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