Pennsylvania state police recently bust up a multimillion-dollar video gambling organization that has been operating for over a decade. Anthony Zenner, the alleged owner of the illegal gambling operation, was also arrested and now faces corruption and illegal gambling charges, reports the office of the state’s Attorney General.
During a Thursday press release, Josh Shapiro, the Pennsylvania State Attorney General said that he would be charging Mr. Zenner for a running a corrupt organization, dealing in illegal gambling devices and the proceeds of the unlawful activities.
“This defendant raked in millions of dollars in illegal proceeds, draining money from Pennsylvanians — and from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania — over the last decade,” Shapiro said in the statement.
A Three-Year Investigation
State authorities officially began investigating Zenner in January 2016 after a review of gambling device questionnaires that were filled in by the owners of bars and clubs in various parts of the state. An in-depth look at the questionnaires led to the discovery that there were illegal machines in some of the facilities and the next logical step of the investigation was finding out which vendor supplied the gaming machines. This was done through undercover surveillance on the bars, clubs, and restaurants that had the illegal gambling machines.
As it turns out, Zenner Vending, the accused’s organization provided no less 142 illegal gambling machines to bars, restaurants, and clubs in Westmoreland, Fayette, Allegheny and Washington counties between 2006 and 2017.
“Today we’ve ended Tony Zenner’s video gambling operation,” Josh Shapiro pointed out. “This defendant raked in millions of dollars in illegal proceeds, draining money from Pennsylvanians — and from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania — over the last decade.”
The attorney general also mentioned that the clubs and bars with the machines from Zenner made cash payouts to players who won credits on the illegal gambling machines. These cash payouts as well as the poker machines which are, in essence, games of chance, made Zenner’s operation illegal under the Keystone State’s laws.
Furthermore, Zenner’s machines were also found to have “knock off” component devices and an internal accounting feature which was used to keep track of the players’ earned credits and winnings. These “knock off” devices added on to the offenses that Zenner Vending had already committed as the state law prohibit the addition of such devices on gaming machines.
The investigators also received assistance from a grand jury from the Attorney General’s office who helped them to uncover the fact that Zenner had been splitting the profits of his poker machines with venue owners, usually on a 50-50 basis. According to the reports that the investigators evaluated, Zenner share of the proceeds summed up to an estimated $14,470 per week.
“Thanks to strong law enforcement collaboration with our partners in the Pennsylvania State Police and the effective use of a Statewide Investigating Grand Jury, this illegal gambling enterprise is over,” Shapiro added in his statement.