Authorities bust gambling ops at locations in Northwest Valley

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The Arizona Department and Gaming, along with Surprise and Peoria police, have busted two internet cafes and a residence in connection with illegal gambling operations.

On Thursday, Nov.7, authorities executed search warrants at two cafes in Sun City West and Peoria, and at the Surprise residence of the sole business owner of the internet cafes. They seized two Dragon video table games, 24 computers and about $5,500 in cash, a release states.

The ADG interviewed three individuals involved in the gambling operations, who later were released pending charges being filed by the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office. The ADG will seek multiple charges that may include promoting and benefiting from gambling and possession of gambling devices and records.

"Warrants were served before the patrons arrived," Aiden Fleming, assistant director of the ADG, stated in an email. "The focus of the investigation is not on the patrons but the operators of the illegal gambling parlors. We cannot speculate on the state of mind of the operator, only that Arizona gambling law is clear in these cases. Gambling conducted off Tribal land is prohibited except in special cases of charitable gaming."

The ADG began its investigation in late summer 2019, which revealed AZ Internet Café in Sun City West was conducting operations that provided patrons access to play and wager using suspected illegal gambling devices, as well as create and use individual online user accounts to bet on unlawful internet sweepstakes video games, according to the release.

In relation to the Dragon gaming machines, Mr. Aiden said patrons play the games and accumulate points, then turn those points into a counter for redemption for cash based on the points accumulated. To the ADG's knowledge, there is no reprogramming of the devices. 

“We appreciate the support of our local police departments, Surprise and Peoria, and our ongoing partnership with the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office in our efforts to uphold Arizona’s gambling laws,” Ted Vogt, ADG Director, stated in a release. “While it’s important that owners and operators of illegal gambling activities be held accountable, each of us plays a part in ensuring that gaming in Arizona is conducted in a socially responsible manner.”

The ADG’s ongoing collaboration with state and local law enforcement agencies and other partners has helped shut down dozens of illegal gambling businesses in the last few years alone, the release states. Commonly located near residential neighborhoods, these illegal establishments often attract other criminal activity when left unchecked.

Anyone with information about suspected illegal gambling anywhere in Arizona can contact the ADG at 602-771-4263.

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