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Cops target illegal video poker

The Richmond Hill Police Department is scoping out local businesses that carry gambling machines.

So far, a two-month investigation has resulted in seizing machines and cash at two shops.

Richmond Hill police served a search warrant on the Citgo on Hwy. 17 on March 11, resulting in the seizure of $700 and three gambling machines. About a month ago, police seized $4,700 and five gambling machines from Lucky’s head shop on Hwy. 17 in Richmond Hill, which has since closed.

Richmond Hill Police Department Cpl. Susan Willis said search warrants were obtained after illegal transactions took place at each place with undercover officers. Willis said Citgo was paying out in cash and lottery tickets while Lucky’s was paying out in cash. Willis said there are additional businesses being looked at that are suspected of using lottery tickets and alcohol as gambling machine winnings.

In Georgia, it is illegal for businesses to offer payouts of cash, tobacco, alcohol or lottery tickets for tickets won on video gambling machines.

No arrests took place at Citgo, and a representative of the store denies wrongdoing but asked not to be named.

Willis said the machines taken from Citgo were returned to distributors and the store was given a warning. She said it likely faces potential penalties from the state for the alleged activity with lottery tickets.

Police say enough evidence was gathered to arrest Lucky’s Smoke Shop owner, 42-year-old Savannah resident Raymond McBride, and his employee and nephew, 25-year-old Savannah resident David Fletcher, Jr., in January. Both men have since posted bond and face gambling charges. Fletcher is also charged with illegally selling the prescription drug Lorcet.

The alleged drug sales prompted the investigation, according to Willis. She said Lucky’s was under surveillance by the Chatham-Savannah Counter Narcotics Team after receiving a tip that narcotics were being sold at the establishment. It was reportedly during that investigation that police discovered illegal gambling.

Willis said the arrests contributed to Lucky’s closing. It had been opened for approximately five months.

Willis said the search for illegal gambling in the city is ongoing and encourages residents to call the tip line at 459-BUST.

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