Ohio is teeming with gambling opportunities. From the state-run lottery to pari-mutuel horse racing, myriad slot machine themes to blackjack, roulette and video poker; there are plenty of ways to get your wager on in the Buckeye State. Unfortunately, some forms of betting fall into the category of illegal gambling, and that’s exactly what got one convenience store owner arrested earlier this week.
On Wednesday, January 29th, authorities in Akron, Ohio charged 29 year old Niveen Salti with running an illegal gambling operation out of a Sunoco gas station located at 745 E. Archwood Avenue. Police revealed that they had been investigating the location for more than a month, and after several undercover infiltrations, alleged that illegal gambling was, in fact, taking place.
Salti, of Independence, is the proprietor of the East Archwood Oil / Sunoco gas station in East Akron, where authorities say she’s been running an illegal gambling operation out of the back room of the store. According to court filings, the Ohio Investigative Unit was tipped off on December 19 when a complaint of gambling was reported. They sent undercover agents into the establishment, who observed two gambling machines in the back room.
The undercover investigation continued on January 10 as agents entered the gas station and played one of the machines, cashing out after losing $4. Records indicate that the gambling devices had several games programmed into them, including blackjack, keno and video poker. The clerk on duty at the time, a 17 year old boy, paid out the agent’s winnings.
Four days later, undercover agents returned once more, this time putting $40 into the illegal gambling machines. A malfunction in the device reportedly caused a ticket to disperse, cashable for $35. The clerk on duty that day offered the agent $10 in cash and a $25 Sunoco gift card.
After two more trips to play the illegal gambling devices, Akron police finally raided the East Archwood Oil gas station on January 22. Court records state that three gambling devices and $1,328 in cash were confiscated from the premises.
One week later, on January 29, the property’s owner, Ms. Niveen Salti, was charged with running an illegal gambling operation; a first-degree misdemeanor in the state of Ohio. The 29 year old woman is scheduled for arraignment on February 10, 2015. If convicted, Ms. Salti could be sentenced to as many as 6 months behind bars and fines of up to $1,000.
This isn’t the first time the East Akon Sunoco gas station has been visited by authorities recently. A series of crimes have been reported at the location over the last few months alone. Twice, police were called by customers of the gas station who reported their vehicle being stolen from the parking lot. Then on December 28, police were called to the scene of an armed robbery after a 60-year old employee of the store was ordered at gunpoint to put cash from the register into a bag. The thief reportedly got away with around $200.