CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. -- A Chesterfield business owner was arrested and charged with conducting an illegal gambling enterprise out of a Midlothian Turnpike storefront just days after the business opened, according to Chesterfield Police.
"Police received a tip about illegal gambling at Chippenham Bids. Through investigation, police determined the business was using a retail internet front to hide electronic games of chance and cash payouts to winners," a Chesterfield Police spokesperson said.
A banner on the front of the store, located at 7485 Midlothian Turnpike, reads grand opening, but the store was shut down Monday.
The store's owner, 24-year-old Liang Liu of Morehead City, N.C., was arrested. He is being held without bond at the Chesterfield County Jail.
Investigators said the store, which had only been open for four days, was a front for an illegal gambling operation.
"Just like the Lucky Sevens game or Connect the Cards slot-type game on PCs with a winning amount, you would also pay your $20 or whatever you paid and you would get more chances to play," Lt. Jim Profita with Chesterfield police said.
Profita said Liu had nearly a dozen item household items for sale like barbecue grills, picnic tables and dishes, but there were also 200 desktop computer stations set up inside the store.
Customers would log on and play a type of video game to win points, prizes or cash, which was advertised on a flyer for the store's grand opening.
"Nobody was purchasing anything, they were trying to win more money," Profita said. "And then they would cash them out if they did or people could've actually lost their money."
Profita said detectives arrested Liu while customers were inside the store.
"It attracted a lot of people and some of the patrons showing up after we arrived really thought it was a legal gambling," Profita said.
Profita said the customers are not facing charges, but he could not rule out future charges since gambling in Virginia is illegal.
Officials said illegal gambling operations have also been popping up in Henrico and the City of Richmond. And they warn customers to stay away.
"It's and easy fix, quick money, and much like any other crime. They think it's a victimless crime when people come to it, but there's a great cover that these games are unregulated," Profita said.
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