MANATEE -- More than $117,000 and more than 500 illegal gambling devices have been seized at multiple locations where there was illegal gambling, the Manatee County Sheriff's Office announced Monday.
Since January, the sheriff's office has been investigating illegal gambling operations throughout the county in conjunction with the State Attorney's Office and the Florida Illegal Gaming Task Force.
According to a release, undercover investigations led to the execution of six search warrants at the following locations:
The Club, 7616 Lockwood Ridge Road, Sarasota, Feb. 27.
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Jack's Café, 6500 14th St. W. Unit B, Bradenton, Feb. 27.
Bingoland, 6832 14th St. W., Bradenton, Thursday.
Orange Blossom Bingo, 445 Cortez Road, Bradenton, Thursday.
Mt. Vernon Bingo, 9516 Kingston Drive , Bradenton, Thursday.
North Blossom Bingo, 8223 U.S. 301 N., Parrish, Thursday.
"These locations are out there," said Manatee County Sheriff's Office spokesman Dave Bristow. "They don't try to hide anything. ... We were able to get what we needed to get a search warrant."
One of the locations at the center of the investigation, Bingoland, is known for helping Manatee veterans through charitable contributions. In late January, Bingoland owners Pete and Patty Killingsworth donated $3,000 through the nonprofit Turning Points to U.S. Marine Corps veteran Dennis Moylan.
The money allowed the 63-year-old Vietnam veter
an to become a homeowner again after a stolen Cadillac Escalade crashed into his Bradenton trailer home.
A message to the owners of Bingoland was not returned.
Orange Blossom Bingo's voicemail machine stated that, as of Friday, it was temporarily closed. The hall's bingo sessions are being held at Bingoland, it added.
Mt. Vernon Bingo is also temporarily closed.
"We will let everyone know when we are ready to reopen," a woman on the bingo hall's voicemail machine says.
Mt. Vernon Bingo also points to Bingoland, where a paper bingo session was set to take place March 13.
Bristow described some of the illegal gambling devices as old-fashioned slot machines.
"It's no different if you were going to go to a casino and play," he said. "There's been talk over the years about should they make gambling legal ... but it's not. That's never gone anywhere. You can go to Hard Rock."
According to Bristow, the last time the sheriff's office conducted an investigation of this nature was in 2006.
No arrests have been made, but Bristow said they are possible.
"We know the owner of four of the establishments. Two of the establishments, we're still working on ownership," Bristow said.
Mike Dinius, whose father and a business partner own the property where Jack's Cafe sits, said they took possession of the property from the Jack's Cafe tenant for nonpayment of rent.
The Bradenton resident was not surprised about the investigation.
"This has been happening throughout the state. ... We don't have any control over that," Dinius said. "It's happened before and it's continuing to happen."
The investigation is ongoing.
Amaris Castillo, law enforcement/island reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7051. Follow her on Twitter @AmarisCastillo.