Flagler Beach, FL - The Flagler County Sheriff's Office Special Investigative Unit is now in possession of about 48 electronic gambling machines, various computers and around $5,700 in cash that's believed to be gambling proceeds after serving a search warrant at Flagler Cats Bingo this week.
The investigation began with multiple tips from the community, according to Staly. Detectives determined that Flagler Cats Bingo was actually a front for an illegal gambling house and operation.
Detectives found that the business was running seven days a week with gaming machines accepting cash and paying out cash to patrons for their winnings. During undercover operations, they discovered that Bingo was never actually played with patrons only using the electronic gaming machines.
Though no one is charged at this time, Sheriff Rick Staly says that the owner of the establishment, Gregory Irwin, was on scene when the search warrant was executed. He declined to provide details of the operation and has been released. Several patrons were also there when deputies arrived. They were also released.
The owner of Flagler Cats, a cat rescue and non-profit spay and neuter clinic in Bunnell, Mari Molina, said she allows the bingo parlor to use the Flagler Cats title in return for donations tot he clinic. She told investigators that she was not aware of the illegal gambling machines and is not involved in the operation. Staly said that it appears that Molina is not actively involved in committing a crime.
Sheriff Staly said, “I hope this sends a clear message to any other operations like it going on in Flagler County that we will work together with our law enforcement partners to shut down these types of illegal gambling businesses.”
Charges are pending follow-up investigations.