3 Busted For Illegal Gambling In Hall County


3 Busted For Illegal Gambling In Hall County

Another week and authorities discover yet more illegal gambling venues in Georgia. As has become an all-too-familiar problem, the arrests were due to convenience store gambling machine winners receiving cash prizes.

That was exactly the case in Hall County, where police arrested three men for operating illegal gambling venues inside convenience stores. All three were booked into the Hall County Jail on charges including:

  • Running a commercial gambling venue – a felony
  • Keeping a place for gambling – a misdemeanor

COAMs, as PlayGeorgia has covered extensively, operate akin to pseudo-slot machines, where winners can cash out prizes in the form of gas cards, or more recently, gift cards. The Georgia Lottery is the legal governing body of Coin Operated Amusement Machines and is responsible for their oversight.

However, the Georgia Lottery did not anticipate the fertile ground COAMs created for below-board business operators to get in on the take.

Georgians with no options turn to illegal gambling venues

With the state’s failure to adopt legal gambling legislation in 2022, crimes of this nature have continued.

In the absence of legitimate establishments to gamble, folks have the margins and murky backrooms to do so illegally. Despite the state’s gambling critics maintaining it’s actually legal gambling that serves as an incubator for crime.

There have been a handful of COAM-related gambling arrests so far this year. Mainly for owners operating unlicensed venues and paying out cash prizes to winners.

Simple market forces suggest this issue will continue if Georgia again chooses to punt on legalized sports gambling.

Sports betting legalization takes center stage in Georgia elections

It’s clearly a top-of-mind topic in the state, so much so that Stacey Abrams has made legalizing sports betting — and the increased tax revenue that comes with it — a pillar of her gubernatorial campaign.

Regardless of the outcome of November’s general election, the earliest that the Georgia legislature can debate or vote on any new gambling proposal will be during its session in 2023.

Right around the corner, but essentially eons away for Georgians who would like to place legal wagers. Specifically in a place of business that is legal and secure. So they don’t turn to venues like the convenience stores in Hall County.

The opportunity is available for the Georgia legislature to finally allow state residents to decide whether or not they want sports gambling operations via ballot measure. Until then, it will be the drip-drip-drip of new illegal gambling ring busts. And more evidence against the tired argument that legalized gambling creates an environment for crime to flourish.