Vinton County Businesses Charged With Illegal Gambling

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Two Vinton County gaming businesses have been charged with hosting illegal gambling following a raid of their establishments by state and local officials.
Police conducted search warrants in McArthur on Paradise Arcade, 31675 Overview Drive, and McArthur Lanes Skill Games, 645 W. Main St., last week on Dec. 11, and allegedly found dozens of illegal slot machines. The latter business is also known as McArthur Games of Skill and is located at the former Victory Lanes store west of town.
In the search, investigators reportedly seized 31 slot machines and $2,981.80 from McArthur Lanes Skill Games and also 17 slot machines and $1,175.75 from Paradise Arcade, according to a release from the Ohio Investigative Unit.
The two corporations were charged with multiple counts of gambling and also operating a gambling house, alongside one count of conducting a raffle while not being an exempted nonprofit, social welfare group or social club (these include 501(c)(3), 501(c)(4) and 501(c)(7) organizations or schools).
According to OIU, gambling is illegal without a proper state license or outside Ohio's 11 sanctioned casinos and "racinos."
Further criminal charges will be presented to the Vinton County Prosecutor's Office, the release states.
Paradise Arcade (formerly known as Paradise City Adult Arcade) first hosted a Grand Opening in June 2012 and was located on Route 50 near Allensville. Owners Steve Martin and Rhonda Wheeler attended a McArthur Village Council meeting in September 2012 and asked about moving inside village limits.
According to previous Courier reporting, council members stated that zoning ordinances at the time did not address Internet cafes and so council did not take action. When state lawmakers voted to regulate the industry in May 2013, Martin told The Courier he had not seen the new legislation and could not comment.
The business eventually moved to 204 W. Main St. near the village's police department. Within the past year, it had since moved to its current location on Overview Drive, which is off of Bolar Road west of Vinton County High School.
The Dec. 11 raid followed a joint investigation by the state's Ohio Investigative Unit, Vinton County Sheriff's Office and McArthur Police Department.
In the news release, McArthur Police Chief Tony Wood said the investigation came about from his department receiving "a lot of complaints from our citizens about the gambling establishments."
Vinton County Marketing Director Sam Davidson said the businesses were not involved in the county's Chamber of Commerce and neither had ever reached out to the Chamber.