November 16, 2001 at 6:20 PM EST - Updated July 12 at 3:10 AM
CLEVELAND (AP) - Police made five arrests and seized slot machines, cash and records from three charity gaming stores.
The five people arrested Thursday at stores in Cleveland and Lakewood are facing misdemeanor charges of gambling and operating a gambling house.
The three parlors searched were Madison Avenue Bingo and World of Instants, both in Lakewood, and Instant Bingo in Cleveland. Elyria police and Lorain sheriff's deputies also seized items at a World of Instants business there.
Cleveland police served 11 search warrants in all, including homes and cars.
Instant-bingo storefronts sponsored by charity are proliferating in the Cleveland area. They often feature gambling devices that charities maintain are simply electronic versions of instant-bingo tickets.
Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Bill Mason said the devices are slot machines, which are banned under state law.
"This is illegal gambling," he said.
Mason's office also will investigate the possibility of fraud or theft from charities, which could lead to felony charges.
The charity sponsoring World of Instants is the Progressive Learning Center of America Inc., based near Dayton. Madison Avenue Bingo was operating for the Buckeye Boxing Association of Cleveland. Instant Bingo was operating for World Bible Way Fellowship Inc., based in Texas, Lakewood Police Chief Dan Clark said.
(Copyright 2001 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)