Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office seizes 196 illegal gambling slot machines

Reporter: Olivia Jean
Published: Updated:

Charlotte County deputies say Salim Qadir was running an illegal gambling ring at the Tiffany Square Bingo Hall in Englewood.

In December 2023, deputies obtained a search warrant and collected 196 slot machines hidden in plain sight from the illegal establishment.

The simple way to put it is games that require skill are legal, while games that require chance are not. Slot machines are a game of chance.

Illegal gambling establishments have a lot of money, said a gambling law professor at NOVA Southeastern University, Bob Jarvis.

“We know that nationwide, these businesses take in something like $36 billion a year. By 2029, they’re expected to bring in $54 billion a year,” Jarvis said.

WINK News Reporter Olivia Jean spoke with a Captain of the Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office, John Heck. They make a lot, but they also take a lot.

“When you have retirees that are going in there and spending their fixed income, [it] becomes a problem. When the machines are set up to make it more profitable for the operator, it doesn’t work out well,” Captain Heck said.

Salim Qadir, the accused owner of Tiffany Square Bingo Hall in Englewood, was found in Georgia and arrested.

“The charges are pretty serious. Most of them are first-degree felony,” Captain Heck said.

In 2021, the Gambling Compact gave almost exclusive rights of gambling activities to the Seminole Tribe of Florida. It then led to the creation of the Florida Gaming Control Commission, Daniel Wallach, founder of a gaming law firm said.

“With this new gaming agency has come along significant assets and resources that have been devoted to the burgeoning problem of illegal gambling, which is not unique to Florida, but it has really been then part of the debate around the country’s gambling landscape,” Wallach said.

The Florida Gaming Control Commission told WINK News these establishments are regularly connected to organized crime.

“We’re seeing a period of enhanced law enforcement because of the new Florida Gambling Commission,” Jarvis said.

“They’re taking people’s money; there’s a large amount of money going in, it’s not going into taxes are not paying taxes. There’s other crimes that are associated with these things sometimes. So really, at the end of the day, that’s why we enforce the laws that we had on his gambling businesses because we want to protect our citizens, and we want to make sure that no other crime follows it as well,” Captain Heck said.

Experts argue that no matter how much work law enforcement does, these gambling establishments will never go away fully. That is because they are easy to set up. You can simply rent a space, move the machines in, and then, bam, you have an operational business.

“Whenever a state clamps down on its gambling, arcade operators, the gambling arcade operators just move to another state or they move to another county,” Jarvis said.

The inside of the building now sits empty. All that remains are a few bright led lights.

Captain Heck said there are several people being held in Charlotte County for illegal gambling.

And come Monday, charges will go from a misdemeanor to a felony.

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