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Chester County Press

Three people charged with operating illegal gambling machines in Kennett Square and Oxford

05/06/2016 02:14PM ● By Steven Hoffman

Chester County detectives seized five illegal gambling machines, gambling ledgers, and more than $37,000 in illegal cash from two southern Chester County businesses that were allegedly operating illegal gambling machines.

The Chester County District Attorney's Office announced the charges today against three individuals—Jaime Sandoval, 48, Hugo Sandoval, 22, and Elizabeth Sandoval, 30. Jaime Sandoval is the father of Hugo and the uncle of Elizabeth. They worked at Taqueria Guadalajara Express in Kennett Square and El Nayarit Mexican Store in Oxford.

According to a release from the Chester County District Attorney's Office, law enforcement officials, including detectives assigned to the Chester County Drugs and Organized Crime Unit, conducted an investigation that included sending a cooperating person into stores to play illegal gaming machines to confirm that the stores were collecting cash or making illegal payouts. This cooperating person was able to enter both Taqueria Guadalajara Express in Kennett Square and El Nayarit Mexican Store in Oxford and confirm the gambling operations. At one store, the cooperating person informed detectives that the machine would never pay out because it was rigged to prevent the gamblers from winning.

Law enforcement officials executed search warrants at both stores and found gambling machines and additional evidence of illegal gambling operations. At Taqueria Guadalajara Express, detectives seized four gambling machines named “Instant Access” and more than $37,000 in gambling proceeds. At Nayarit Mexican Store, detectives seized one “Crazy Bugs” gambling machine. These gambling machines are illegal in Pennsylvania because of how easily they can be manipulated. A common practice is for the owners of gambling machines like video poker or video slot machines to “knock off” or erase all of the accumulated credits from the machine. Under this method, the player receives money for the remaining credits on the machine and then the machine is reset to zero credits for the next player to begin. This allows the owner of the machine to operate without regulation, which can lead to further rigging so that the machine never pays out winnings. The operators of the machines have people pay to play, and then keep off-the-record gambling ledgers to record the profits that were made. The profits are typically split between the business owner and whoever supplied the machines.

Sgt. Robert Dougherty of the Chester County Drugs and Organized Crime Unit said, “Given the location and customers of these stores, these machines were used to target and take money from economically disadvantaged people. Nobody appreciates unscrupulous business owners running an illegal gambling operation to fleece a vulnerable population.”

The Chester County detectives were assisted on the investigation by the Kennett Square, New Garden, and Oxford police departments, the Department of Homeland Security, and the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board. Anyone with information that might be useful to the investigation should contact Chester County detective Christine Bleiler at 610-344-4263.