Lumpkin police identify gas station owner arrested for illegal use of gaming machines

LUMPKIN, GA (WTVM) – The Lumpkin Police Department executed a search warrant at a local gas station accused of commercial gambling and arrested the owner of the store.

The owner of the store has been identified as Sandhy Aben Patel.

On Thursday, March 22, 2018, the GBI's Commercial Gambling Unit, along with the Lumpkin Police Department, and in cooperation with the Georgia Lottery Corporation and the Georgia Department of Revenue executed one search warrant in the City of Lumpkin, Stewart County for violations of Georgia's commercial gambling laws at S-Mart located at 334 Main Street.

"It's a multi-billion dollar industry in the state of Georgia—these machines bring in a tremendous amount of cash-flow for these businesses," said Cindy

Ledford, Special agent in  charge of commercial gambling unit of GBI.

While searching the location, agents collected evidence related to crimes of commercial gambling and seized monetary assets gained from the illegal use of gaming machines.

The location is currently licensed to operate Coin Operated Amusement Machines.  However, during the course of the investigation, agents discovered customers were receiving cash payouts for winning credits.  In Georgia, credits may only be redeemed for lottery tickets and/or store merchandise.

"When you play a machine and you win, you can redeem credits for store merchandise which can include fuel, lottery tickets, snacks or soda inside the store. You can never receive cash for redeeming credits. No cash, no alcohol, no tobacco, no firearms," said Ledford.

The popular convenience store remains closed. No word on when, or if it will re-open.

Patel was the only person arrested. She awaits her first court appearance before a judge.

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