3 At-Large For Georgia Gambling Machine Theft


3 At-Large For Georgia Gambling Machine Theft

There are a few options for legal Georgia gambling, one of which is COAMs, coin operated amusement machines. COAMs are extremely popular and ever-present in Georgia. Due in part to their usual locations in gas stations, mini-marts and other traditionally low-security businesses, they’re also becoming big-time targets for crime.

The recent headlines are awash in the creative ways criminals are gaming Georgia’s tiny sliver of legal gambling:

Suspects unidentified, wanted by police

The latest on the gambling machine crime beat comes out of Cartersville, where three individuals are sought for allegedly stealing more than $2,500 in cash from a COAM at a Texaco.

According to security footage, the suspects used a duplicate key to access the machine’s cash box. After pocketing the money outside the Texaco staff’s view, they approached the cashier, handed in their winning vouchers and were issued store credit. They used their store credit to purchase lottery tickets.

Bartow County Police ask that anyone with information to come forward.

Georgia gambling machines make easy targets

The incident is yet another that illuminates the vulnerabilities of businesses that become licensed COAM operators in the state of Georgia. Whereas a casino or racebook would have security measures implemented to prevent this kind of slipshod theft, small business owners likely don’t. Operating budgets for mom-and-pop shops or gas stations do not include earmarks for top-shelf security systems and personnel to monitor the gaming machines they’ve installed for extra revenue.

Casinos and sportsbooks do, of course, but so far, the legislature has failed to adopt measures that could permit legal Georgia gambling. That could change pending the priorities and outcome of the upcoming legislative session, set to convene on Jan. 9. There’s been nothing formal in terms of raising sports betting legislation. Still, it’s more of a when not if.

The lottery, COAMs, and related gaming machines give Georgians a taste of legalized gambling. It’s up to the legislature to approve a constitutional amendment ballot measure to see if the state’s residents want to fully enjoy Georgia sports betting.