Columbus stores raided; gambling probe leads to arrests - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

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Columbus stores raided; gambling probe leads to arrests

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Source: Columbus Police Department Source: Columbus Police Department
Source: Columbus Police Department Source: Columbus Police Department
Source: Columbus Police Department Source: Columbus Police Department
COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) -

Three grocery store employees are in jail after Columbus police seized illegal gambling machines from their businesses.

The special operations division of the Columbus Police Department carried out search warrants on two local businesses for illegal gambling. Undercover officers went into the Steam Mill Food Mart and Sunny's Food Mart on Buena Vista Road after reports of customers using gambling machines.

Captain Gil Slouchick explained, "We've had several complaints of businesses in Columbus that are operating gambling machines. People go in, they put their money in the machines and they get paid in cash." 

Captain Slouchick says not all of these machines are illegal, but the ones that pay in cash are against the law, "There are some machines in Columbus that are for amusement only, or that you can be paid in store credit for something in the store for no more than five dollars in value. But you can't go in a store, put your money in a machine and get paid in cash, that is commercial gambling."

Three people were arrested as a result of this raid, and more arrests are expected to be made. Diraj Shah, and Nikunjkumar Patel were charged with commercial gambling, keeping a place of gambling, possession of tools during the commission of a crime and communicating gambling. Kinnariben Shah was charged with communicating gambling.

"When you are running a gambling operation, Biloxi is in it to make money, I'm sure they are here too," Slouchick told News Leader Nine.

Slouchick adds several gambling machines were seized during the raid, "We are in the early stages of the investigation. We are investigating records, seizing money, seizing the machines, seizing anything that has anything to do with the gambling operation."

The raids at both businesses were carried out simultaneously. The suspects are being held in the Muscogee County Jail for their felony charges.

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