A GBI crime scene specialist enters Big Dawg Calling Cards office on Broad Avenue during an internet gambling sting Tuesday afternoon.
ALBANY, Ga. -- Throughout Georgia, authorities on Tuesday raided what were believed to be seven illegal Internet gambling cafes posing as long-distance calling card stores.
One of the cafes was in Albany.
James Kokott, owner of Big Dawg Calling Cards, was listed in a DeKalb County indictment filed Monday stating that Kokott and two business partners, James A. Clemmons and Marilyn Clemmons, set up the business to skirt state laws prohibiting gambling.
The company's Albany location, at 1125 W. Broad Ave., was raided at around 3 p.m. Tuesday. At the sting were agents from the Albany-Dougherty Drug Unit and the Georgia Bureau of investigation.
At the scene of the Albany store, reporters were referred to John Bankhead, public affairs representative with the GBI, for further information. Bankhead confirmed that undercover GBI agents were sent into the stores, and reportedly found that patrons were buying cards and being paid winnings in cash.
The indictment states that the alleged activity had been taking place since January 2011. The indictment goes on to say that the cafes were part of a sweepstakes operation attached to the calling cards they sold.
Patrons were allegedly informed that they could not just walk into the store and purchase a card, but rather, they were told they had to play a sweepstakes in order to purchase a card.
The company also owns cafes in Doraville, Douglasville, LaGrange, Conyers and two in Columbus.
At the Albany store, the indictment states that the establishment offered "Jacks Are Better" with a pay out of $17, as well as various poker games with a pay out of $19.
In so doing, the store unlawfully and intentionally operated a gambling place and intentionally promoted a lottery, both of which constitutes racketeering activity, the indictment states.
Bankhead said computers were being seized from the stores, but that the establishments were still free to operate.