MINEOLA, N.Y. (WPIX) -- A six-month investigation into illegal gambling on Long Island has been wrapped up with the arrest of 17 people, the seizure of $39,000 in cash and 20 gambling machines.
The Police Asset Forfeiture And Intelligence Bureau, Narcotics Detectives and the Nassau County District Attorney's office were just some of the law enforcements agencies involved in the bust.
Police explained the machines are like the ones you would expect to find at a casino, except they were set up in pizza parlors, delis and restaurants all over Freeport and Roosevelt in Nassau County.
They said illegal gambling lured people in, with the hope of making a quick buck, but also attracted thugs, drug dealers and organized crime.
"Where there's gambling, there's money. Where there's money, there is violence," they pointed out.
Investigators have recovered thousands of dollars in cash and three guns from Mr. Z's Deli on Sunrise Highway in Freeport.
Mr. Z said he would tell his side of the story, until his lawyer told him to keep quiet.
Jamie Olivo of Mi Rancho Deli on South Main Street, also in Freeport, said he didn't have a gambling machine, but cops took his cash anyway.
"They took, they took I don't know how much but I know I had like $300 in ones and I usually keep singles here and they took my phone book that was left by the old owners, I don't know what's going on it's bulls@*t," he said.
Police said they had a right to seize any cash connected to illegal gambling. "The money that is paid out comes from the register in the establishment," investigators explained.
Some see the video poker machines that accept fives, tens and twenties as entertainment. But, police counter that argument, saying when people put money into the machines in question, they're basically throwing money away, because the machines are rigged to lose."
The suspects have been charged with promoting gambling and are scheduled to be arraigned Feb. 17 at First District Court in Hempstead.