ST. PAUL — An illegal gambling operation in St. Cloud was shut down today after law enforcement officers served a search warrant at Triple Crown Sweepstakes in St. Cloud. Illegal gambling devices, similar to video slot machines, were confiscated during the raid.
The action is a result of an investigation into Triple Crown Sweepstakes (AKA Minnesota Sweeps) by the Minnesota Department of Public Safety Alcohol and Gambling Enforcement Division (AGED) and the St. Cloud Police Department. The case is being referred to the Stearns County Attorney for possible criminal charges. Triple Crown opened their doors within days of being notified by AGED that the business would be considered illegal in Minnesota.
AGED received a citizen complaint in June that Triple Crown was planning to open business in St. Cloud where patrons could play slot machine type games. AGED investigators contacted the business, which claimed to be raising money for a charitable organization. AGED told the company that its plan was not in compliance with state law.
“Our goal is always to educate first, but we will act when someone resists our efforts and chooses to operate outside of the law,” said AGED Director Michele Tuchner.
Tuchner adds that consumers who wish to work with a company claiming to be a charitable organization should do some research to make sure they are legitimate.
The company has allegedly approached several bars in the St. Cloud area claiming their products are authorized as electronic pull-tabs included in the recent stadium legislation. AGED stresses this is not the case, and they will investigate any report of illegal gambling related to electronic pull-tabs.
About Alcohol and Gambling Enforcement Division
AGED monitors alcohol from the manufacturers to the public, issues both alcohol and gambling licenses, defines and approves regulatory practices. It provides technical and field assistance to businesses and local units of government. It conducts background investigations and criminal investigations relating to lawful gambling, the Minnesota Lottery, lottery and sweepstakes fraud scams, pari-mutuel horse racetracks and card rooms, and tribal reservation gambling.
The division conducts criminal investigations on lottery and sweepstakes scams where it is estimated that Minnesota citizens lose approximately 30 million dollars yearly. Additionally, the division enforces laws pertaining to illegal gambling such as sports bookmaking and other illegal gambling activities. It initiates enforcement actions, resolves and mediates complaints on liquor and gambling violations. It conducts formal hearings on violators, and provides forums for discussion and resolution of liquor and gambling issues.
In 2011, AGED:
- Nearly $12 million in unpaid liquor excise taxes were collected through AGED enforcement efforts.
- Investigated 1,007 alcohol-related complaints and assessed civil penalties in 75 cases.
- Conducted 22,000 background/criminal history checks for tribes, Racing Commission, Minnesota Lottery and Gambling Control Board.
In 2010, AGED:
- Investigated 200 gambling-related complaints.
- Received 14,000+ lottery sweepstakes fraud complaints.
Recent AGED Activity
- AGED worked with Rice County Sheriff’s Office and London Police to stop an international romance scam and money-laundering operation.
- AGED has helped educate Minnesotans about the legality of tipboards and tournament pools.