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Gambling Fraud Case Leads Police to Educate Businesses

Tellos and The Patio were cited for having gambling machines in their establishments after fraudulent tickets were passed to Port Washington police, but confusing laws about video gaming machines have led police to better inform businesses.

After an incident of gambling fraud led to four citizen arrests and six citations, the has decided to host an informational session for local business owners explaining laws involving video gaming machines.

On July 11, four Antigo residents visited and attempted to cash in fraudulent tickets for a video gambling machine; they did the same thing at

The incident not only resulted in theft citations for the four people involved, but Tellos and The Patio also received citations for gambling and possession of gambling devices.

"(The incident) basically did two things, from our perspective," said Port Lt. Eric Leet, who was the first to respond to the call of the fake tickets and also has special training in the gambling laws. "(It gave) proof that they were illegal devices and proof that they were being used for gambling. And now that we know that, we are obligated to enforce it."

The scam

Leet arrived at Tellos at 11:10 a.m. July 11, after The Patio owner Alphonse Uselding called to tell police he had caught two women presenting fraudulent tickets to the business.

The women, Uselding said, had first presented two fake tickets to him at The Patio — one for $280 and the second for $310, according to the police report. Uselding paid the first woman $280, but then realized the tickets were fake; he didn't pay out on the second one, and decided to check with local businesses to see whether others had been hit.

The 21-year-old woman and 27-year-old woman, both of Antigo, initially resisted questions about the fraudulent tickets. Once in custody at the Port Washington Police Department, however, they provided details about their scheme.

The women were working with two Antigo men, ages 20 and 29. The 29-year-old man would enter the establishments to play the video gambling games. After getting a ticket print out, he would head back to the car — where they had a computer waiting to make a fake ticket.

After the forged ticket was created, the women would head inside to play the games, have a couple drinks and eventually cash out on their "winnings." They admitted to having done this in other cities, but said Tellos and The Patio were the only two establishments they went to in Port.

Focusing on 'fairness'

State statute defines video gambling machines as illegal, but Leet said recent changes in the law decriminalize their use — and most instances are dealt with on a municipal level.

State statute defines gambling as making or intending to make a bet in a lottery or on a gambling machine. It is illegal for businesses that operate with a Class B liquore license to also have operable gambling machines.

"The penalties for having five or fewer video gambling machines on a Class B premises include seizure of the machines, seizure of money in the machines, and a penalty of $500 per machine per incident," according to the League of Wisconsin Municipalities website. "It is a felony for a Class B establishment to have more than five video gambling machines on premises; it is also a felony for a Class A licensee to have any video gambling machines on premises

The confusing laws have caused frustration and citations elsewhere, such as in Mount Pleasant this spring. To combat the issue, owners explaining the law. Even still, a Mount Pleasant gas station was .

"Chief (Kevin) Hingiss very much wants us to work with the local businesses, so what we are going to do moving forward is that I’m going to be putting out a letter to all the licensed establishments in the city," Leet said, "... (and) to maximize our fairness to the business owners, we’re going to meet, we’re going to have that discussion," he said.

"We understand that these machines are scattered around the city — what we don’t know is whether or not the business owners are knowingly operating illegal," Leet said. "The statutes aren’t terribly easy to follow."

The businesses' gambling citations cost $208.50 each. The four Antigo residents will pay $429 each for the theft citations.

Uselding had no comment regarding the incident; Tellos owner Angel Tello was not immediately available for comment.

Greg Huegerich July 20, 2012 at 04:17 PM
Thanks for posting this, I've been wondering for a while what the story was with these machines popping up all over the place. Question: Do the companies that provide the games give financial protection to the business owners for this kind of situation? Currently, the lesson seems to be: If you get ripped off, don't call the police. I'm not sure that's a good lesson, and can lead to some ugly scenarios. Overall, I'm good with fewer regulations on this kind of thing, but I don't know that I'm a fan of local police spending resources tracking down this kind of crime. A large reason gambling tends to do better in a casino type environment is the security against this type of fraud becomes the responsibility of the casino, moreso than local law enforcement, and has some reasonable oversight. As a consumer, what kind of protections am I afforded if I win on one of these machines and the business owner decides not to pay? Pushing the current scenario further, if someone deals off the bottom of the deck in a home poker game, am I within my rights to call the police and ask for enforcement and money back for fraud? The current laws seem to sit on the fence, and I'm not sure that's working real well.
Terry July 21, 2012 at 12:21 PM
And remember folk, it was good old Tommy Thompson who pushed for and signed the legislation that made this mess, largely to benefit his brother and his patrons in the tavern league. Noooo not beholden to special interests is that one. I wonder if he signed it on a motorcycle.
Howard November 14, 2012 at 07:10 AM
How could the antigo residents Get charged with anything at all ? Its the bars and the vendors fault for having illeagal machines anyways... Either way the laws make no sense what so ever !
Chad Kizewski February 16, 2013 at 02:07 PM
See its a persons decision wheather they want to play the machine or spend there money some where else. I personally think that they should be fully legal in wisconsin being in every business. See I like knowing that if im having that extra change laying around id like to take that opportunity to possibly turning that $5 and changing into $100. It least after I won now I can go buy those new Jordans I always wanted. You have more of a chance winning on a video poker compared to playing the lottery I mean look at how many people play the lottery and still try to outlaw video pokers.
George Simonis April 22, 2013 at 06:30 AM
I see eveybody in wisconsin is having the same problem. did you all know that these illegal gambling machines have reached the borders of Australia. now the Owners of the illegal gambling machines are allowed now not only to continue there operation even after the Department of justice have been informed and the Governor general about the illegal gambling, but also are allowed to protect their rights in doing so by takening out legal action on inoccent people in other countrys for copyright infrimgent. Trial is set in Wisconsin on June 3rd 2013 Big Daddy Games v. Reel Spin Studios, this includes 27 Defendants including several Australians and a Bussiness in Australia Called Pokies4fun What people donot know why these machines are still allowed to operate and i will tell all my beliefe. the operators of the games pay i belive 5 % of the revenue in Tax, this account for millions of dollars to the (dor) ( in Australia this is called revenue raising.) Do the math and you will see the other side.

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