Three charged with operating gambling machines

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Three alleged gambling machines found by authorities at a Kennett Square store, led in part to the arrest of three, related to gambling charges there and at another location in Oxford.

Three area residents have been charged with operating illegal gaming machines — some of which may have been rigged to keep players from winning — in Kennett Square and Oxford and some $37,000 in illegal gambling proceeds was seized.

The Chester County District Attorney’s Office announced the arrest Friday of Jaime Sandoval, 48, Hugo Sandoval, 22, and Elizabeth Sandoval, 30.  Jaime Sandoval is the father of Hugo Sandoval and the uncle of Elizabeth Sandoval.

Elizabeth Sandoval

Elizabeth Sandoval

The locations of the alleged illegal gaming machines were El Nayarit Mexican Store in Oxford and Taqueria Guadalajara Express in Kennett Square. Authorities say that the locations suggest that the allegedly rigged games were targeted at the poor Latino community.

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

Hugo Sandoval

Hugo Sandoval

The Chester County Detectives were reportedly tipped off that illegal gambling was taking place in the two stores.

Detectives from the DOC Unit starting working the case, including a detective trained and working under a grant from the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board. The DOC Unit had a cooperating individual enter the stores and play the illegal gaming machines to confirm that the stores were collecting cash or making illegal payouts. The person, authorities said, was able to enter each store and confirm the gambling operations.

“The intended use of the local law enforcement grant is to identify and thwart illegal gambling, and we are pleased with the efforts in Chester County to meet this goal,” Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board Executive Director Kevin O’Toole said.


Jaime Sandoval

At one store, the individual working with police informed the detectives that machine would never pay out (i.e., that it was rigged to prevent winning).

On March 18, the DOC Unit executed search warrants at both stores. In both locations, detectives reportedly found the gambling machines and further evidence of illegal gambling operations.

Specifically, in Taqueria Guadalajara Express, Detectives seized four gambling machines named “Instant Access” and more than $37,000 in gambling proceeds. At El Nayarit Mexican Store, detectives seized one “Crazy Bugs” gambling machine.

These types of gambling machines are illegal in Pennsylvania due to how easily they can be manipulated. Commonly, possessors of these gambling machines — typically, video poker or video slot machines — “knock off” or erase all of the accumulated credits from the machine. Under the “knock off” 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” or having a gambling machine that does not ever pay out winnings. The operators of the machines have people pay to play, then keep off-the-record gambling ledgers to record the “take” on profits, as well as any money paid out. The “take” traditionally is split between the business owner and whoever supplied the machines.

The Chester County Detectives’ investigation was assisted by the Kennett Square, New Garden, and Oxford Police Departments; the Department of Homeland Security; and the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board.

Anybody with additional information should contact Chester County Detective Christine Bleiler at 610-344-4263.

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