Over a two-week period that ended March 10, San Diego County sheriff’s deputies (in conjunction with the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control) conducted undercover operations to bust local businesses that offered illegal gambling machines for play.
According to a press release on the sheriff's website, seven Vista businesses were found to have the machines, and 11 “quarter-pusher” and video-style devices were seized along with $14,320 in U.S. currency. Though it was unknown how much profit the stores were raking in, a “pay-out sheet” found at one of the businesses showed $37,800 had been paid out to players over a six-month period.
“We were shocked when we learned how much had been paid out,” said sheriff’s deputy John Boyce in an interview. “If they were paying out that much, how much were they taking in?” Boyce added that as much as $1000 in profit may have been taken in each week, depending on the location of the machine and how often it was used.
Though some of the machines were located in plain view, others required undercover work to ferret them out. In those cases, an undercover officer entered the business and asked the proprietor if they had a gambling machine. After the officer was shown to the machine and began to play, assisting deputies would enter and make the arrest.
Ten store proprietors or managers of various businesses were arrested; one was observed attempting to stash her gambling machine behind a dumpster, having gotten wind of a possible visit by law enforcement; another, already on probation, was booked for additional charges and released after posting bail.
Pictured: “Quarter pusher” machine