Spartanburg, South Carolina — Bubba Technology Group, LLC, a gaming operation operating throughout South Carolina from Piedmont, pleaded guilty to operating an illegal gambling organization following an extensive joint investigation by Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and South Carolina law enforcement Afterwards, was sentenced (sledge) in federal court.
As part of the felony sentence, the company agreed to forfeit approximately $367,000 — the profits it earned from the illegal business — and will not be able to sell unlicensed gaming machines in South Carolina. Authorities also seized dozens of machines and seized $670,000 from gaming companies linked to the business.
Evidence filed in court indicated that Bubba Technology Group leased and sold unlicensed gaming machines, known as Fish Machines, to various businesses in South Carolina, including convenience stores and bars. Specifically, Fish Machines allows players to put cash into the machine and attempt to shoot digital fish based on the number of credits the player chooses to wager. If successful, the player can exchange the printed receipt for cash at a store or bar. In cases where Bubba Technology Group rents out machines to businesses or individuals, the profits are split between the two entities.
As part of the guilty plea, the company agreed that it is illegal under South Carolina law to keep, operate or distribute unlicensed gaming machines in South Carolina. In addition, the Company agrees that gaming machines include gaming machines in which players receive cash payments while playing games.
“Defendant took an opportunity to make money illegally. It lost that bet,” said U.S. Attorney Adair F. Boroughs. “This company sells machines that allow people to place bets and win money — and is illegal under South Carolina federal law. The office will aggressively go after those who try to get rich by violating federal law. No matter where Where illicit money is made, crime breeds.”
“No matter your personal opinion, gambling is illegal in South Carolina. The law is the law and must be obeyed,” said South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson.
“Cases like this prove the old adage that crime doesn’t pay off, and it’s true,” said Ronnie Martinez, the special agent in charge of HSI in North and South Carolina. “Thanks to the excellent work of HSI and its law enforcement partners, this illegal gambling business has been taken down.”
“Illegal gambling operations like this will be shut down,” SLED director Mark Keel said. “SLED Agents is working closely with our federal partners on this operation to ensure that any businesses that break the law are held accountable.”
US District Judge Donald C. Coggins, Jr. sentenced Bubba Technology Group to one year of probation and forfeited $367,039.43. The forfeiture in related cases resulted in an additional forfeiture of $673,408.77 in illegal gambling profits. Law enforcement officials also seized dozens of gaming consoles in those cases.
HSI and SLED investigated this case with the assistance of the Greenville County Sheriff’s Office, Greenville County Drug Enforcement Agency, Spartanburg County Sheriff’s Office, Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office, and South Carolina Immigration Enforcement. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Derek A. Shoemake and Justin Holloway prosecuted the federal case, and South Carolina Assistant Attorney General Creighton Waters oversaw the state investigation.