Several hundred gambling machines that were seized during an investigation into illegal gambling in 2013 are on their way to the landfill where they will be destroyed.
Jefferson County Sheriff Lafayette Woods Jr. said Tuesday that the machines had been stored at the Pines Mall since deputies and Pine Bluff police officers served search warrants at 15 different locations in Pine Bluff and Jefferson County during what was called “Operation Lucky Seven” on Aug. 3, 2013.
Woods said 24 arrests were made, almost 600 machines seized and over a half-million dollars recovered from the operators of the illegal establishments.
“This was a very labor-intensive operation,” Woods said. “There were over 100 officers and deputies involved, and we kept the machines as long as we could to see if we could recover some of the money we put out.”
He said the idea was to sell the machines to a vendor outside of Arkansas, where the machines would be legal. But because they were seized as contraband, that idea would not have been possible.
“Today, we have spent almost $24,400 storing the machines at the mall, and I made the decision to go ahead and destroy them,” Woods said. “It’s the responsible thing to do, and the Sheriff’s Office can use that money instead of us paying the mall $400 a month.”
He also issued a warning to illegal businesses that have sprung up since the 2013 operation, saying that investigators have located several new illegal gambling sites and have received phone calls about others. He said deputies are working to collect enough evidence to obtain search warrants for the locations.