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Colorado Springs police bust illegal casinos

Owners neglected warnings in widespread investigation
Golden Aces search warrant.jpeg
Posted at 6:45 PM, Dec 13, 2023
and last updated 2023-12-13 22:56:29-05

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado — Police officers in Colorado Springs seized hundreds of gambling machines from a half dozen businesses that were operating illegal casinos.

Earlier this year, investigators learned of 34 locations throughout the city where the activity was happening. The department launched an education campaign to warn the business owners that they were breaking the law. Most closed voluntarily. Others continued to operate.

Editors Note: The Colorado Springs Police Department originally identified 225 South Academy Boulevard as a place where warrants were served, this information was incorrect and the address served was 225 North Academy Boulevard.

In April and May, officers executed search warrants at Phoenix Rising, 225 North Academy Blvd., The G Spot, 1107 S. Nevada Ave., Klix at 2418 S. Academy Blvd., and Charlie Chedda's at 1867 S. Academy

"All of them knew what they were doing and continued to do it," Lt. Mark Chacon of the CSPD told reporters Wednesday.

Officers served a second warrant to the owners of Charlie Chedda's in November.

"I don't know if they bought more machines, but yes, one of them reopened numerous times," said Lt. Chacon.

They also seized equipment from AC Expo at 296 S. Academy Blvd. and from Golden Aces at 2439 S. Academy Blvd. last month.

Some locations contain casino-style slot machines. Others had gaming devices that resembled arcade tables. Players would win credits by playing the game. Instead of receiving tickets to spend in a store the way video arcades do, these businesses had cashiers who paid players money for their credits.

"We can show that all the machines that we have taken, you do have to insert money to play the machine and you can either win money or lose money," Lt. Chacon explained. "And to redeem your credits, you cash out. And you can cash your money in at a cashier's booth or something to that effect."

Neighboring businesses in the shopping center where Golden Aces was located were reluctant to go on camera to be interviewed Wednesday. However, many said they witnessed other criminal activity happening there when the business was open.

Lt. Chacon said their officers received similar reports.

"We received a lot of tips through the community about the businesses and about the crime that occurs within these areas including a lot of drug activity and other violent crime in those areas."

The people who played the games will not face gambling charges. However, CSPD will continue to investigate any businesses suspected of operating illegal casinos.

Lt. Chacon said the business owners can be charged with gambling, which is a misdemeanor. However, it is a Class 5 Felony in Colorado to receive the shipment of a slot machine and not register the device with the Colorado Gaming Commission.

"Typically the gaming commission is not going to allow that registration unless you're operating at a casino like in Black Hawk or Cripple Creek," Lt. Chacon explained.

He also believes there is enough evidence for prosecutors to pursue felony money laundering charges.
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