State officials seized eight illegal gaming machines yesterday at three Valley Moose and Elk lodges, and one American Legion Hall.
The lodges, all of which also serve liquor, had been getting a cut of the illegal proceeds, confirms Rick Medina, spokesman for the Arizona Department of Gaming.
But Medina also says the lodges' illegal activity isn't the focus of the investigation. In fact, he says, it would be "speculative" to assume the lodge officials taking the illegal proceeds will ever face the music.
Sounds like the folks at the lodges who had their hands in the dirty money are gonna skate.
But you'd think even someone with poker chips for brains knows that setting up a gambling operation like this is illegal in Arizona, (Indian communities being the big exception).
Medina says the Department of Gaming investigation is focused mainly on the person who provided the machines to the lodges, Richard Victory. We're not sure exactly what kinds of games were played: In one picture sent by the gaming department to New Times, a machine appears to be set up to play a variation of High-Low. According to the department's news release:
The four licensed locations include The American Legion at 39th and Southern Avenues; Tempe Elks #2251 located at 23rd Street and Hardy in Tempe; Moose Lodge at 24th Street and South Mountain; and Moose Lodge at Mill and Southern Avenues.
Two additional warrants were served at the home of Richard Victory, the man believed to be the distributor of the electronic gaming devices, and at storage facility both located in Mesa. Victory allegedly provided these machines in exchange for a percentage of the profits. Officials estimate Victory collected thousands of dollars in undeclared income each month.
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Clearly, the lodges also collected thousands in undeclared income each month. So what's going to happen to the people on the other end of Victory's little alleged gambling ring?
"Eventually, that bridge may have to be crossed," says Medina.
The state Department of Liquor, which helped with the case, will deal with the alleged liquor-license violations of the lodges related to the machines. We imagine that, when all is said and done, the booze will still be flowing at these places.
Gambling laws in Arizona are arbitrary and ethnically discriminatory. But you'd think the good old boys and gals at these venerable institutions would know better.