A six-month undercover operation ended with several people behind bars today. Savannah-Chatham police raided four illegal gambling locations fronted by legitimate businesses. Like the Lucky's on Ogeechee Road, selling vacuum cleaners in the front and paying out cash jackpots in the back.
"You're given access through a door to a gambling facility like this that's kind of a mini Vegas," explained police spokesmen Bucky Burnsed.
Caught in the act, gamblers hid their faces as police raided the makeshift casino. But police didn't stop there. Other locations across town like Snookers on DeRenne Avenue and Lucky's 2 in the Sandfly area were all busted, turning up thousands of dollars in cash.
"We are in the process of executing arrest warrants on some nine to ten people that have been involved in this operation," said Burnsed.
Police say the illegal operations were headed by 62-year-old William Peoples and at least seven others who will face felony charges. Police also say it wasn't the machines that were illegal to have, it was the the owners receiving cash for people to play them, then handing out cash prizes.
This gambling bust they say is just the first with more to come. "The message we're sending out, if you're doing this, beware," said Burnsed. "You're going to go to jail."
Everyone involved will likely face felony counts of commercial gambling and soliciting to defraud.