Daily photo by Holly Hollman|
Limestone County Chief Deputy Randy King, left, and Athens drug investigator Johnny Morell tie six video gambling machines to a trailer after removing them from a backroom of a building in the Owens community.
Limestone raids store for gaming machines
By Holly Hollman
firstname.lastname@example.org · 340-2445
OWENS — It’s probably not common for video gaming machines to share space with church pews, but authorities found a place that offered both when they raided Nana’s Corner in the Owens community on Wednesday.
“If you think you’ve sinned, I guess you can repent here too,” Limestone Sheriff Mike Blakely said.
Authorities received information Wednesday afternoon that Nana’s Corner, a service station/bait and tackle shop, had a building in the back that offered video gaming, Blakely said.
The store is west of Athens on Alabama 99.
Blakely said his department and the district attorney’s office also had received complaints about possible gambling at the store.
Investigators got a search warrant and raided the building at about 4 p.m. Store patrons stared in curiosity as law enforcement vehicles entered the parking lot.
Inside the back building was a boat, and church pews lined in rows on the concrete floor. Beside the pews were blue tarps hanging from the ceiling that covered a back area with two locked doors. A woman said one door led to her apartment, a concrete block room with a bed.
Nana’s Corner owner Mickey Allen, 56, unlocked the second door, which led to a green concrete block room with six video gaming machines.
Blakely inserted a $20 bill in the Cherry Bonus machine and played a couple of rounds to prove the device worked. His investigators removed $140 from the Cadillac Jack machine and found a total of $25.25 in other machines.
Authorities charged Allen, who lives in an apartment at the business site, with possession of a gambling device and confiscated the machines. Investigators were questioning Allen on Wednesday night.
“He’s operated these machines several weeks at least or probably months,” said district attorney investigator Bobby Smith.
Empty soft drink bottles and potato chip sacks overflowed from a trash can. There was a window air conditioning unit to alleviate the heat.
Blakely said it’s illegal to own the machines, even if they are not operable.
In 2006, a state Supreme Court ruling declared gaming machines at a Birmingham dog track illegal, which led to the closing of video sweepstakes establishments throughout the state.
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