More than 20 people have been arrested after investigators conducted two illegal gambling busts at and .
The Marietta Daily Journal reported that three Howard’s Deli employees were arrested after they allegedly used cash payments from registers to award electronic gambling winners. The arrests came as the result of a four-month-long sting operation conducted by the Marietta/Cobb/Smyrna Narcotics and Intelligence Unit.
The MDJ report said Smyrna residents Patricia Church, 51, and Vanessa Nagy, 24, and Marietta resident Patty Furr would accept video gaming vouchers for restaurant tabs in exchange for cash from the registers. All three women were charged with felony commercial gambling. Church and Nagy were also charged with video amusement gambling, a misdemeanor.
Gambling for money is illegal in Georgia.
“You can’t pay out in cash rewards,” said Cobb Police Public Information Officer Dana Pierce. “You and I could play chip poker all day long, but when we start laying money on the table is when it becomes illegal.”
A similar bust occurred at Cigar Villa on Aug. 15. Police executed a search warrant that uncovered video gaming machines and illegal poker games. Pierce said that the business owner and 17 poker players were arrested as a result of the search.
“These apparently are cash-based poker games,” he said “The MCSU intelligence side went ahead with their investigation and as a result of this undercover investigation the agents were paid money for their successful play and also participated in a cash-based poker game in the back of a business.”
Pierce said most of the illegal gambling operations MCSU responds to are the result of complaints.
“I wouldn’t even say it was a proactive approach,” he said. “They were all complaint-based. There’s a lot of that that goes on as far as the illegal activity, but I can tell you their resources are dedicated to those that come in on a complaint status.”
Smyrna-Vinings Patch is attempting to obtain arrest warrants for the Cigar Villa bust and will have more details as they are available.