HENRY COUNTY, Ga. — The Georgia Bureau of Investigation's gambling unit -- along with the McDonough Police Department -- executed a search warrant at a well-known bar in Henry County late Wednesday night.
The raid took place at Motorheads Bar on Macon Street in McDonough. Neighbors who saw what was going on called Channel 2 Action News to let us know something big was happening.
[PHOTO GALLERY: Evidence photos from gambling bust at popular bar]
Traci McDonald, 50, who has owned the bar for more than a decade, was arrested on commercial gambling charges, GBI Special Agent in Charge Cindy Ledford said.
Authorities said the bust was the culmination of a yearlong investigation into alleged gambling practices at Motorheads.
“It is a statewide problem, and there is a lot of money involved in gambling in Georgia,” she said.
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Investigators said the bar was operating “coin operated amusement machines” from which customers were receiving cash payouts for winning credits – which is illegal in Georgia.
Those kinds of machines must also be licensed by the Georgia Lottery.
The bar was also running live, casino-style poker games where undercover agents played, placed bets and won cash, investigators said.
Carl Thomas has been a customer of Motorheads for three years. He told Channel 2's Lori Wilson that he was surprised to hear federal agents raided his favorite bar.
“It's just a friendly atmosphere. It's family oriented. It's like a modern-day Cheers, really,” Thomas said.
Ledford said when agents moved in Wednesday night, customers were caught in the act.
“They were actually in the middle of a poker game and so the tables were full and there were several people around the bar, as well,” Ledford said.
Despite the raid, regular customers believe the bar is still an upstanding place.
“It's a beautiful place and the people that come here all the time, they come here to chat and take the afternoon off from work, and there's a lot of good stuff that goes on in there,” Thomas said.
McDonald has bonded out of jail. Agents said some other Motorheads employees could also face charges.
Cox Media Group