A multi-agency investigation led to the shutting down of an illegal gambling house in Thomasville, including the arrest of 11 individuals.
From the report, the house was operated as somewhat of a gambling speakeasy, with multiple card tables and food and beverages available to patrons. Only one of the arrestees lived in Thomasville — the rest were from other cities in South Georgia and North Florida.
Several of the suspects were found to be carrying firearms while on the premises.
The bust came as the result of an anonymous tip to local law enforcement, advising of an increase in black market gambling houses sprouting up throughout Thomas County. The tipster also mentioned the possibility of illegal drug activity.
Troopers began to surveil the residence, and when conducting a routine traffic stop of one of the vehicles that were present at the property, a pound of marijuana was seized — providing probable cause to execute a search warrant.
Cash was seized, but no drugs were found.
There’s been a number of illegal gambling arrests in the State of Georgia lately, with the Thomasville bust being only the latest occurence.
A lack of legal sports betting creates a vacuum, served by the black market
The State legislature’s recent failure to adopt legal sports betting legislation means that folks interested in placing wagers on sports will be relegated to the murky margins, placing wagers with illegal offshore sportsbooks or stopping by a gambling speakeasy.
While the proposed legislation did not establish any specific preventive measures to combat illegal gambling, each bill identified ‘eligible gamblers’ and created appropriate parameters for placing wagers.
With the lack of legal sports betting in Georgia, it stands to reason that illegal busts like the one in Thomasville will continue to occur. This lack of legal availability creates a supply and demand vacuum where criminal elements are allowed to flourish. Georgians who simply want to place a wager will only have the option of doing business without the protections of regulation or safety.
‘Gambling creates crime’ is an ill-informed misnomer that is often used as a cudgel against legal sports betting efforts. As is the case with Thomasville, individuals will continue to find a way to gamble — with or without the law’s blessing. Without sports betting legislation in place, seeds are being sown that perpetuate criminal enterprises throughout the state.