First Update 6:10 p.m.The Georgia Bureau of Investigation has released new details on the gambling searches in Tift County from Monday afternoon that involved over 100 law enforcement agents.The GBI TMs Commercial Gambling Unit, along with the Mid-South Narcotics Task Force, the Tift County Sheriff TMs Office, and in cooperation with the Georgia Lottery Corporation executed eighteen search warrants in the Tift County area for violations of Georgia TMs commercial gambling laws.In total, thirteen businesses, three residences, a storage facility and an office were searched as a result of the warrants.While searching, they say that agents collected evidence related to crimes of commercial gambling, seized monetary assets gained from the illegal use of gaming machines and seized over 100 coin operated amusement machines.The GBI says that the businesses were licensed to operate coin operated amusement machines, but they discovered that winners were receiving cash payouts for winning credits.Georgia law only allows credits to be redeemed for lottery tickets and store merchandise.Five arrests have been made in the case, with each being charged with commercial gambling and other charges:Jerry Macri, 45 of LenoxRebecca Fletcher Macri, 39 of LenoxDanny White, 55 of TiftonZachary White, 29 of TiftonAlicia Lamb, 28 of TiftonSearch warrants were executed at the following business locations:-Soda Pop Shop, 3131 Hwy. 41 South, Tifton, GA-Short Stop, 607 Short Street, Tifton, GA-Earl TMs Trap House, 2409 3rd Avenue, Tifton, GA-Funny Fruit Thrift Store, 1424 North Tift Avenue, Tifton, GA-J.L.D. Wings and Pub, 4468 Hwy. 319 South, Tifton, GA-EZ Market, 3301 Hwy. 82 West, Tifton, GA-GT Point, 1313 South Ridge, Tifton, GA-Lil Pantry, 1302 South Central Avenue, Tifton, GA-A-1 Food Mart, 1005 East 12th Street, Tifton, GA-SP Convenience Store, 2473 Hwy. 82 East, Brookfield, GA-Tift County Ink, 1239 Hwy. 82 East, Tifton, GA-Lucky Shamrock, 1281 Hwy. 82 East, Tifton, GA-Jay TMs Food Mart, 10 Sandra Drive, Tifton, GA-M&M Amusement, 216 Park Avenue, Suite 103, Tifton, GAInitial StoryTift County Sheriff's Investigators and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation spent Monday seizing what they're calling illegal gambling machines from various convenience stores around Tift County.
FOX 31 met up with Sheriff Gene Scarbrough at the EZ Mart on US Highway 82 where he says they confiscated eight of these illegal machines. Scarborough said there have been arrests made but his office is not yet releasing the information on how many or who was arrested.
What makes these machines illegal according to Scarborough is that they have cash payouts and they aren't connected to the Georgia Lottery. He hopes this serves as a warning to other convenience stores that commercial gambling in Georgia is not legal.
Scarborough says this was a 14 month investigation.Stay connected to WFXL.com as the story develops and the FOX 31 Newscast at 10 p.m.