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Gaming machines seized from American Legion in Fort Mill

By Jonathan McFadden
jmcfadden@heraldonline.com

FORT MILL Two tabletop gaming machines were seized from the American Legion in Fort Mill last week and the organization’s finance officer cited after investigators found the machines filled with more than $14,000 operating in a backroom, according to authorities.

On Thursday, officers with the county’s multijursidictional drug enforcement unit helped agents with the State Law Enforcement Division inspect the American Legion Post #43 on Banks Street in Fort Mill, according to a York County Sheriff’s report. Authorities received a complaint that there were poker machines inside the building.

Officers found two Nexus poker machines, a type of video poker machine, in the back room, said Marvin Brown, drug unit commander. They also seized $14,007, gambling dice, two decks of playing cards and poker chips.

SLED cited Wallace Coleman, the legion’s finance officer. Coleman on Monday said the legion was housing the poker machines for someone else, adding that it the legion did not purchase it. He would not disclose the owner’s identity.

He was unaware the machine was illegal, he said, because it did not have the same games typically associated with poker machines.

“There won’t be any problem here anymore,” Coleman said.

Brown said the machines had games that simulated poker. Under state law, any device that operates a "game of chance" is considered illegal, whether it's housed in a public place like a gas station or behind closed doors, said Jared Libet, an assistant attorney with the state Attorney General's Office.

"It's helpful to think of these machines as narcotics," said Libet, adding that law enforcement treats them as illegal "contraband" even if the devices don't appear to resemble traditional slot machines.

Libet said many devices can actually be reconfigured desktop computers.

Brown said drug agents are still considering whether any criminal charges will be filed. A magistrate has already signed an order of destruction for the machine, Brown said. The owners have 15 days to submit a request for a post-seizure hearing, in which they can contest the magistrate’s ruling.

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