Illegal video poker machines still popular in Ga.

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DOUGLAS COUNTY, Ga.,None - Ten years after Georgia outlawed video poker, police and prosecutors say it's alive and well across the state.

The video poker machines are sometimes tucked away in the back of convenience stores, but local law enforcement and the Douglas County district attorney told Channel 2’s Diana Davis they never left the state.

“The gambling industry keeps probing, keeps looking for weaknesses in the system to get a foothold here,” Douglas County District Attorney David McDade said.

Ten years ago, then Gov. Roy Barnes, called the games a cancer, saying it was as addictive as crack cocaine.

The Legislature passed a law supporters said would drive the games out of the state. But McDade said there are too many loopholes.

“The leadership at the General Assembly needs to tighten that loophole. So long as they are resolved to banning commercial gambling in Georgia, they will give us the tools we need to do that. I’ve been assured by the governor and lieutenant governor they have made it clear they will provide whatever legislative remedies are necessary,” McDade said.

Late last year, Clayton County deputies raided a lounge with the poker machines. Tuesday, they told Davis that despite their crackdown, the problem continues.

Just days ago they spotted dozens of machines in a sweep of convenience stores suspected of selling alcohol to minors.

“Pretty much every store we went into had one or more of the machines already reinstalled.” said Clayton County Sheriff's investigator David Ward.

He said the profits are huge, making anywhere from $25,000 to $60,000 per machine.

For players the odds were nowhere near as good as Las Vegas. Since the games are illegal, there’s no regulation.

“Vegas machines, they are going to pay out in the high 90s, usually, whereas these machine might pay out in the 50 to 60 percent range. Some machines that are really rigged, the odds are even worse than that,” Ward said.

Some have suggested allowing the Georgia Lottery to allow video lottery gambling.

They said that would regulate the games and keep the money here in Georgia for the HOPE Scholarship.

Gov. Nathan Deal said he is absolutely opposed to any expansion of legal gambling in the state.

You can read more about this story in Wednesday's Atlanta Journal-Constitution.


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