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    Georgia Retailers Charged with Video Poker Felonies

    Twenty-two arrested; 50 banned gambling machines confiscated.

    GAINESVILLE, Ga. -- Seven convenience stores were affected when Hall County law enforcement officials here made 47 felony charges against 22 people Monday to send a message to those who provide rewards for playing video games, according to The Gainesville (Ga.) Times.

    Georgia law prohibits machines that award money or other things of value through chance, including slot machines that offer a match of two or more numerals, symbols, letters or icons. The law does not affect games provided by the Georgia Lottery Corp.

    Maj. Wayne Mock of the Hall County Sheriff's Office said a 45-day undercover operation resulted in warrants being served at 12 businesses.

    About 50 electronic gambling machines were confiscated, he said. Mock said thousands of dollars in the machines also was seized in the raid, the newspaper reported.
    All 22 people arrested were released on bond.
    The arrests were made at seven convenience stores including two Shell stations and three BP stores. Warrants also were served at Trotter's, Dixie Quik Mart, Hi-Neighbor and Red Barn, the newspaper reported.

    In 2001, state lawmakers passed legislation to put an end to all forms of video poker no later than Jan. 1, 2002.
    Legislators were attempting to stop a business practice of awarding coupons, store credits or prizes to video poker players.

    Prior to the ban, Hall Country businesses were taking in an estimated $56 million annually for the games.
    In May 2002, the Georgia Supreme Court upheld the ban on the machines.

    Shortly after a June 2002 deadline, machines were seized at five county convenience stores following cash payments to undercover agents, according to the news report.

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