Several convenience stores throughout Benton were raided Wednesday for having alleged illegal gambling machines on the premises and some for illegally exchanging prizes for lottery tickets, authorities said.
"It was determined during the course of the investigation that the businesses in question were providing items of significant value as ‘prizes’ to customers," said Lt. Kevin Russell, public information officer for the Benton Police Department. "The prizes were awarded from slot-style machines and people were given such items as merchandise and gasoline as their prize. To provide items from gaming machines that are of any significant value is against Arkansas law."
He added, "Additionally some of the businesses were trading the 'prizes" for lottery tickets. The Arkansas Lottery Commission has been contacted in regard to this case."
Capt. Jeff Besancon told The Saline Courier on Wednesday that warrants were served at the local stores suspected of having illegal gaming machines starting at 7:30 a.m. after police were tipped off by citizen complaints. The stores cited for keeping a gaming device were: Lance's Convenience Store at 3821 Edison Ave., Bullock's Superstop at 15536 Interstate 30, Phillips 66 at 15541 Interstate 30, Jimmy's Superstop at 901 Edison Ave. and Texaco EZ Go at 1921 Arkansas 5 North.
Russell also noted that 13 gaming machines were confiscated as evidence.
Arkansas statute 5-66-104 states: "Upon conviction, a person who violates this section is guilty of an unclassified misdemeanor and shall be fined in any sum not less than $100 and may be imprisoned any length of time not less than 30 days nor more than one year."
"This is an ongoing investigation and there is the possibility of additional businesses being cited in the future," Russell noted.
Anyone with information about this crime is encouraged to call the Benton Police Department at 501-778-1171 or 501-315-TIPS (8477). Individuals also may send an anonymous tip to CRIMES (274637) with the keyword BNPD in the body of the text.