Gambling business shut down in Polk County | News
Davenport, Florida - It wasn't the type of place that got a lot of attention.
First of all, it was only in existence for two weeks. You couldn't see through the windows. If you were under the age of 18, you weren't even allowed through the front door.
The Horseshoe, located at 150 California Boulevard in Davenport, was known to customers as a "sweepstakes-style" internet gaming hot-spot.
When Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd found out about the Horseshoe, the luck ran out quickly. Places like this are illegal in Florida.
The Sheriff sent in his deputies quickly, and once they saw gambling going on, they came back and raided the place.
The owner, 30-year-old Ryan Ault, was arrested on Monday and led away in handcuffs. He was silent and did not answers questions from 10 News.
Ault was asked, "Do you know it's illegal in the state of Florida and you continued to do it?"
Sheriff Judd said, "The message is clear. If you come into this county and you open a business and gamble, we are going to take your property and take your cash."
And that's exactly what happened. They seized boxes and boxes filled with computers, along with 50 work stations.
In addition, there was a lot of cash.
Sheriff Judd said, "I can tell you this, there's a wad of bills to choke a horse inside."
Here's how things worked at the Horseshoe: Customers would come in, deputies say, and buy as many Internet cards as they wanted and play as long as they wanted.
There was no cash limit to how many cards customers could purchase. The customers would then log onto a computer loaded with gambling software.
The owner called it, "Internet time," not gambling.
The Sheriff added, "I find it suspicious that it's just 'Internet time' and you walk over and put your card in. Then, they pay you off when you leave the facility."
One woman who works in a business at the other end of the strip mall weighed in on the raid. "We didn't know anything was going on in there, you can't even see in windows. We had no idea," said Christina Daughtery.
While some were a bit suspicious, others loved being able to cash-in, although the Sheriff says these people were taken advantage of at the cafe.
Cathy Wimmer told 10 News, "I knew [the Sheriff] was coming, I knew it, right from beginning. I said to guy who runs place, 'You're in Polk County and Polk County doesn't allow that.'"
That is a sentiment echoed by Sheriff Judd, "This is simple: the laws of Florida say this is illegal."
The Sheriff believes this is part of a bigger operation in Ohio. Deputies are still looking for a clerk who worked at the Horseshoe. She is 37-year-old Angela Byers from Deltona. If you know where she is, please call the Polk County Sheriff's Office.