SPRINGDALE -- One person was arrested after police removed 31 gambling machines from a pair of convenience stores Thursday.
Mark Calhoun, 32, received two felony citations for accomplice to keeping a gambling house and turned himself in to the Washington County Detention Center, according to his arrest report. Calhoun was released without bond.
Phone calls to the stores Kings Korner, 2808 W. Huntsville Ave., and Kings Xpress, 2513 N. Thompson St., weren't answered Thursday afternoon. One of the stores used a converted car wash bay as a gambling room.
The stores are owned by Glen and Tammy Calhoun, according to the police report. Mark Calhoun is their son. Several store employees said Mark Calhoun and his sister, Lindsey, emptied money out of the gambling machines, according to the report. Mark Calhoun was the only family member in town Thursday.
Operating an unlicensed gambling place in Arkansas is a felony, with possible penalties of six years in prison or fines up to $10,000, said Matt Durrett, the Washington County prosecutor.
Lt. Jeff Taylor, a spokesman for the Police Department, said the slot machines were operated on an amusement license, similar to those used by Chuck E. Cheese and Dave & Buster's arcades. Winners of those establishments' games of chance get tickets, which they redeem for prizes.
At the Kings convenience stores, the tickets were redeemed for cash, which was paid from the cash registers, Taylor said. The operation was similar to a casino, he said.
Ernest Cate, city attorney, said general complaints have been made about gambling operations in the city. The Police Department will look into similar operations, Taylor said.
Durrett said gambling is illegal in Arkansas, but voters passed a constitutional amendment in 2018 to allow four casinos in the state. The ballot initiative gave the Arkansas Racing Commission the authority to license and regulate casino gambling.
Police and Arkansas Beverage Control started a joint investigation into the businesses in 2016. Undercover beverage control agents gambled at the stores several times over the years.
On April 11 a caller reported a robbery he said began at the store. The caller said he won a large amount of cash while playing slot machines at the Huntsville Avenue store. He reported he was followed home and robbed.
Calhoun's arrest report says the man who reported the robbery won $300. Jared Thomas Clark of 6545 Georges Ave. was arrested April 30 in connection with the robbery.
NW News on 07/12/2019
Print Headline: Springdale police investigate gambling in convenience stores