The Savannah-Chatham police busted up an illegal gambling ring yesterday, putting at least nine people behind bars. While it is legal to play video poker and other types of games, it is illegal in the State of Georgia to receive a cash payout. It's a fine line between getting cash and getting a certificate with a cash value.
"We have a lot of lottery players and a lot of scratch-offs," said Joanne Harbuck, who works at a Savannah BP station.
So what makes this legal, and the operation shut down by police yesterday not? It's all in the prizes. At BP station, people get coupons. "Mostly they play for the lottery or they buy drinks, gas, stuff like that," said Harbuck.
At the raided operation, winners got cash. "The law is a little vague there about what a coupon can be, but you can receive a coupon however, you can't receive cash," said Savannah-Chatham police spokesman Bucky Burnsed.
Police say more of these illegal casinos are under investigation and they will be cracking down on those who are illegally making money off those looking for their big break.
"This kind of activity is going on at Wilmington Island, and on other places on DeRenne Avenue and out of Highway 17, and our detectives are looking in to those reports," Burnsed said. "If charges need to be filed, we will do so."