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Police find illegal gambling machines

GRAYSON -- A routine license check by Gwinnett County police ended in the discovery of an illegal gambling machine at a Grayson convenience store Tuesday afternoon, police said.

Police reportedly entered the Chevron Food Mart at 2705 Loganville Highway as part of a series of compliance checks for alcohol licenses. Once there, they noticed the store had three gaming machines that did not have the standard state-issued licenses.

Upon further examination, they said they found that one of the machines was not designed to issue anything for winners other than money, which is against Georgia state law. The machine in question took quarters in return for the chance to win money readily displayed inside.

The store's owner, Salim Merchant, was booked into Gwinnett County jail on misdemeanor charges of gambling activities, keeping a gambling place and possession of gambling devices after turning himself in.

He was released on bond.

"It's a type of incident that occurs from time to time," Gwinnett police spokesman Officer Brian Kelly said.

"Our officers take a very proactive approach to combating crimes of this nature and respond with thorough investigation whenever we suspect that devices of a gaming nature violate the laws and ordinances meant to govern them."

According to Georgia law, gaming machines that directly afford users the opportunity to risk their own money for currency already in the machine is illegal. Machines that offer tickets, store credit or other similar prizes are legal.

Police confiscated more than $600 from the machine.