Originally created 07/09/02

Sell poker machines

Richmond County vice officers' seizure of "an ocean" of unlawful video poker machines makes clear why District Attorney Danny Craig led the charge in Atlanta last year to ban the gambling contrivances.

After South Carolina lowered the boom on the "crack cocaine of gambling" two years ago, Craig complained the machines were flooding across the river overwhelming communities' ability to police Georgia's loophole-laced anti-gambling laws.

He took the leadership role among state prosecutors in persuading the governor and General Assembly to impose the same kind of "let-there-be-no-doubt" prohibition the Palmetto State did.

The discovery Friday of thousands of video machines in the Wilco Avenue building proves just how right Craig was about Georgia - especially the border areas - being flooded.

Although there was some legal skirmishing after the legislature's ban, Collins Entertainment Inc. has known for months all its machines were supposed to be out of the state by July 1. Considering that the gaming devices were moved from South Carolina to Georgia in the wink of an eye, there's no excuse for them to still be here.

The 4,000 or so machines now in police custody are valued at between $7,500 to $10,000 apiece. If the court rules them contraband, as seems likely, the machines could simply be destroyed.

But could they not also be sold to a gaming company in a state like Nevada where video poker is not banned? That could bring in millions of (non-taxpayer) dollars that would go a long way toward solving Sheriff Ronnie Strength's manpower shortage problem.

In any event our hats are off to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, which provided the tip about the stashed machines, and to the Richmond County Sheriff's Department for a job well done.


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