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Groups face penalties after video lottery probe

 CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Five “faux” fraternal organizations were hit with fines and reductions in limited video lottery machines, as the Lottery Commission Tuesday took its first actions in an ongoing investigation of video lottery operators that have violated state Lottery regulations.

Commissioners imposed $1,000 fines and ordered the reduction of LVL machines from 10 to 5 against Monongalia-Preston Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 87, Princeton FOP Lodge No. 89, the Vietnam Veterans State Council, Marshall County FOP No. 112, and the West Virginia State Lodge FOP.

“We think we’re being quite generous, and yet it’s going to be serious fines and punishments,” Lottery Director John Musgrave said of the organizations and LVL machine distributors that operated the faux fraternal lodges.

According to the investigation, which included a series of show-cause hearings conducted by the commission in January and February, the organizations operated video lottery parlors with 10 LVL machines – twice the number allowed in bars and clubs – under the guise that the locations were fraternal lodges.

However, officers of the organizations testified they had no control over day-to-day operations of the gaming facilities, and in at least one case, had never been to their “lodge.”

At May’s commission meeting, commissioners will vote on sanctions for LVL machine distributors — known as operators in Lottery terminology — who set up “turn-key” gaming facilities for the organizations, including providing locations and staff for the gaming facilities, in violation of Lottery laws.

Those operators – Action Gaming of Wheeling, and Buck’s Inc. of Clarksburg – will have 30 days to self-report all violations, or face major fines of $10,000 per violation and the loss of state Lottery licenses.

According to the Lottery’s investigative report, Action Gaming is believed to be operating 19 faux fraternal locations, primarily in the Northern Panhandle and Wood and Pleasants counties, while Buck’s Inc. has four faux fraternal locations, three in Clarksburg and one in Nutter Fort…

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