BATESVILLE, Ark. (KTHV) - Independence County authorities said they've confiscated four high profit gaming machines from the back of a local business, one of them being played by children.
It happened Wednesday in a strip mall at 1697 Batesville Boulevard. Police say what appeared to be the beginnings of a local tobacco store turned out to be a front for an illegal gaming hub. Not only that, they said those slot machines were in the same room as what appeared to be a child care center.
"One slot machine appeared to be for the use of the children," said Independence County Sheriff Steve Jeffery.
He said it's activity they've warned local businesses to stop after several complaints from citizens, providing slot machines or illegal gaming devices inside their stores.
"We sent out a warning in the local newspaper and radio station telling everyone if you have these machines in your businesses, get rid of them," said Sheriff Jeffery.
While most heeded the warning, Jeffery said one local business did not.
"We gathered information on this business, got a search warrant and went to that location and seized five slot machines and approximately $2,700 in cash from this business," said Sheriff Jeffery.
The business, located in a Batesville strip mall, is advertised as a new tobacco store, but what they found inside, Sheriff Jeffery said, came as a surprise.
"In the back room of this business, this is where the slot machines were located. There was also what appeared to be some type of child day care," said Sheriff Jeffery.
One of those machines, police said, appeared to be played by children with tokens, but the others made thousands of dollars.
"The information that we've obtained is that these four slot machines were bringing $10,000 a month in," said Sheriff Jeffery.
While no arrests have been made yet, the prosecutor is reviewing the case and any other businesses operating machines like these should beware.
"We gave people the chance to get out, and if there are anymore out there, we'll get them too," said Sheriff Jeffery.
THV 11 News did speak with family members of the owner who said the machines did not have any money in them, were turned off and covered with a quilt. As for the childcare center, a family member said it was merely for family, and the token machine was a toy.
Sheriff Jeffery said he expects felony warrants to be issued soon in the case. He said by Arkansas Law, after those responsible have been charged and convicted, and the machines must be destroyed by fire.