Two arrested in video poker machine bust

Video gaming machines seized from last Friday

Horry County police have arrested two men in connection with 5 video poker machines suspected to be illegal.

The machines were seized last Friday from the Happy Days Arcade at the 501 Mini-Mart in the Conway area.

A supporter of one of the two men arrested in connection with the seizure of gambling machines says if he is guilty of anything, it's being too kind-hearted.

Fonzie Lewis, 56, who owns the 501 Mini Mart in Conway and the Happy Days game room attached to it, was arrested Monday night. Allen Grady Jordan of Conway turned himself in Tuesday morning.

Both are charged with operating a gaming house, in connection with the seizure by Horry County police last Friday of five video poker machines at the game room. Police say the machines are suspected of being illegal.

"In order for it to be considered an illegal gambling machine, you have to pay to play the game, it must be a game of chance and there has to be a monetary payout," said Sgt. Robert Kegler of the Horry County Police Department.

Kegler said a county magistrate will inspect the machines to determine whether they are illegal. Police also seized $681 in cash.

Lewis ran unsuccessfully for Horry County Council in 2006 and for S.C. House District 58 in 2008.

He posted a $10,000 bond Tuesday and was released from J. Reuben Long Detention Center.

Lewis declined to speak to NewsChannel 15, but a Mini Mart employee, who described herself as Lewis's adopted niece, said Lewis is a good citizen who would give a stranger the shirt off his back.

"If anything, he's guilty of having a good kind heart and people like him get taken advantage of all the time. And it's not right," said Wendy Johnson.

Johnson is not sure why Lewis was arrested, but said "there's some not good people in this world" who just want to cause trouble. "And when a good hearted man that's a good citizen of this community gets a rap like that, that's wrong. It is un-American."

Jordan also appeared for a bond hearing Tuesday. The results of that hearing have not been released.

Kegler said police will continue to investigate video poker machines in the county as they receive tips from the public about the machines.

"We initiate our investigations based on information that we receive, whether they're anonymous complaints or somebody calling in with a specific complaint."

Video gambling has been illegal in South Carolina since 2000.

Horry County Solicitor Greg Hembree said it's hard to say whether video gambling machine operators are trying to make a comeback or whether they never really went away. He said operators continue to make changes to the electronic workings of these machines to try to keep them one step ahead of the law.