Gambling dispute lands men in jail

LAWRENCEVILLE -- A spat over slot-machine winnings at a Duluth gas station landed two Gwinnett men in jail on gambling charges this week.

Officers responding to a domestic disturbance around midnight Monday found a customer arguing with a cashier at a Citgo station at 3547 Old Norcross Road.

The customer, Dong Kang, 40, of Duluth, told police the business was denying him $700 he'd won in a video gambling machine on the premises, according to a police report.

Kang told police he'd been playing slots at the store for months and had won $875, but was awarded only $175. A cashier, Worku Alemu, 27, of Lawrenceville, told officers his boss instructed him to pay the lesser amount and for Kang to return for the remainder.

When Kang returned to collect Monday, he was denied the cash and called police, the report says. Police arrested both men -- Kang for misdemeanor gambling, and Alemu for felony commercial gambling.

The business owner arrived to lock the store and denied instructing his employee to pay winnings in cash. The business' policy is to pay gamblers with store goods, the owner told police. He wasn't charged.

Kang showed police a receipt stipulating he'd won 875 "points," the report says.

Both men have since posted bond at the Gwinnett County Jail.

Rules governing gaming at businesses such as gas stations have proven murky and controversial in past Gwinnett busts.

State law forbids gambling in any form except licensed bingo, raffles, the Georgia Lottery and electronic games of skill, such as blackjack. Payouts of more than $5 from electronic gaming machines are illegal. Some businesses offer a store credit as winnings, which is legal.

Gwinnett police spokesman Officer Brian Kelly noted that merchandise awarded as prizes cannot exceed $5 for a single play of the game or device.