In what appears to be a serious crackdown on gambling in Hartshorne, police raided a local bar in the area armed with a search and seizure warrant. 61 year old bar owner Jackie Almarie Swboni, was the apparent target of the raid and the focus of the search and seizure warrant. Police confiscated at least eight slot machines which were found on the premises.
Swboni has subsequently been charged with the misdemeanour crime of allowing or facilitating the gambling of slot machines within a place of business, which does seem somewhat ridiculous considering the place of business happens to be a bar. Official charges were filed by District Attorney Chuck Sullivan on behalf of the 18th District.
According to Pittsburg County Gail records, Swboni was released shortly after her arrest on a $500 cash bond, a lot less than if it had been any kind of drug arrest or charge. Based on what we know, the Hartshorne Police Department's Officer Jerry Ford, had obtained a probable cause affidavit on the 24th of June, allowing the subsequent search and seizure operation to be conducted on the premises known as Jackie's Alibi, situated at 905 Pennsylvania Street, Hartshorne.
Whilst conducting the search and seizure, police found several documents, one of which contained the title "Alibi" near the cash register. The document turned out to be a list of payouts for various slot machine wins and included specific information such as the date, name, and number of points, machine number, total payout and the amount for each machine. According to the affidavit, the last entry was listed as 06/24 and contained additional details including the words "machine number 7" and the name "Patty" who apparently had been paid a total of $30 for her win of 600 points.
The Plot Thickens
More evidence uncovered at the scene revealed further information regarding the illegal slot machine operation at Jackie's Alibi. It included details on each of the machines and their related payout values. According to the affidavit, four of the machines were valued at payouts of $10 for a thousand points, and $100 for a then thousand point win. The other four machines were valued at 5 cents per point, giving payouts of $5 for 100 points, $25 for five hundred points and $50 for a thousand point wins.
However, the most damning piece of evidence uncovered at the scene read "Someone in the county is trying to set them up." Other details found in the document included instructions on how payouts were to be conducted, with the full instructions reading as, "If it's anyone you don't know, do not pay on the machines" and to "pay people in the store room and if it's a woman, to pay them in the restroom".
Swboni, who owns Jackie's Alibi, arrived at the bar whilst the police were still conducting their search and seizure and was subsequently arrested on the spot. Swboni immediately requested her attorney and refused to say anything else until then. After being placed under arrest and read her rights, Swboni was then taken down to Pittsburg County Jail.
Legal Gambling Options for PA Residents
All eight of the illegal slot machines were confiscated, signalling the end of the Jackie's Alibi slot machine gaming sessions although patrons will more than likely play online since playing online slots in PA is imminent. For those that haven't heard, the Supreme Court of the United States recently overturned the decades old PASPA (Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act), paving the way for legal gambling in most states in the US. New Jersey, a long-time advocate and campaigner for legal online sports betting and gambling, has been leading the fight to have the law overturned and will be the state leading the way in rolling out legal online gambling opportunities state-wide.
More good news for Pennsylvania residents, is that PA will be following in New Jersey's footsteps, and will begin rolling out online gambling legislation soon. The timing really couldn't be more perfect following recent news that the US economy is heading back up, giving PA residents more money to spend on non-essential items such as entertainment and soon to be online gaming.