An unlicensed casino in Pennsylvania raided last August has resulted in criminal charges against the operators.
David Scott Hutchinson, 50, of Johns Creek, Ga., and Nahyun Hutchinson, 49, of Exeter Township, Pa., have each been charged with first-degree felony charges. They’re accused of operating a corrupt organization and dealing with illicit money garnered through unlawful activities.
The Hutchinsons surrendered to the Berk’s County district attorney’s office yesterday. Two other suspects, Sean Sang Lee, 49, also of Exeter, and Matthew Kyle Shepherd, 35, of Jefferson, Ga., face the same charges. However, Lee and Shepherd remain at large.
The Pennsylvania State Police on August 20, 2020, raided the Windfall Amusements 777 Casino at the Kenhorst Plaza shopping center in Shillington. Law enforcement confiscated 57 gaming machines that were deemed to be unlicensed gambling devices. More than $67,700 in cash was also seized.
“They operated blatantly, advertising as a casino, and they never got a casino license, nor did they ever apply for a casino license,” said District Attorney John Adams.
The Hutchinsons were arraigned and then released on $40,000 bail. Their preliminary hearings are scheduled for early March.
Pennsylvania Gaming Problem
Pennsylvania has greatly expanded gaming in recently years. The state’s 2017 gaming expansion legalized new brick-and-mortar satellite casinos, online gambling, sports betting, fantasy sports, video gaming terminals inside truck stops, and airport gaming lounges.
“Pennsylvania is beyond the point of saturation from a gaming perspective,” said Eric Schippers, senior vice president of public affairs and government relations at Penn National Gaming, to Casino.org.
A major concern for the heavily invested casinos is the ongoing proliferation of distributed gaming, much of it unregulated and operating in a legally disputed realm. Skill gaming machines, which closely mimic slot machines but require a gambler to identify a winning payline, have popped up in bars and restaurants, markets, convenience stores, and quasi casinos, such as the Windfall Amusements 777.
The Pennsylvania State Police contend the unregulated and untaxed skill gaming machines constitute illegal gambling. But the legal matter has not been fully resolved.
We spent quite a bit of time looking at the gambling devices that were seized, and did a thorough forensic analysis of those gambling devices,” Adams said of the Windfall investigation. “It is very difficult to determine the type of machines that are illegal versus legal.
“Our state legislature needs to make a decision as to the illegality or legality of these machines,” Adams concluded.
Skill Gaming Confusion
Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court Judge Ellen Ceisler ruled last year that until the state passes legislation that specifically says skill gaming machines are illegal gambling apparatuses, there is no legal basis to seize the terminals.
Unlicensed gambling machines that are purely based on chance, such as a slot machine, are able to be seized under the current Crimes Code.
The majority of the state police raids on illegal gambling establishments, such as the Windfall Casino, have targeted unlicensed slots and other gaming devices that do not have any element of skill.
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