April 19, 2017
Nine people were arrested after a raid on an illegal gambling operation in New Kensington.
The raid happened at the Spartaco Club after a 10-month investigation. Police arrested five club officers and four employees, with club President Armando Spataro and his relative Sam Spataro facing the most serious charges.
Officials said 19 machines were taken. According to a search warrant filed last July, investigators said, “The devices seized at the club operate on what is referred to as ‘retention ration’ rather than true odds as devices operated in licensed casinos.”
All of the devices that were seized are illegal in North America, because the odds are stacked against the player and there is always a fixed profit for the operator of the knock-off machines.
New Kensington Mayor Tom Guzzo said there is no place for illegal gambling in the city and he is hoping the club gets restored to a true social hall, one he remembers going to as a kid.
“We want all of our social clubs to be just that: social clubs. So we don’t condone this action, but obviously fully support the investigation,” Guzzo said. “We are in the midst of a tremendous revitalization plan right now and we are a city moving forward. We deal with this as it is and continue with our revitalization plans moving forward.”
The nine club officers and employees were picked up on Tuesday and later released. The club president’s attorney declined to comment. As for the building itself, Armando Spataro told police the previous leasee died last year, but police can’t find any record of that person’s existence.
Investigators said southwestern Pennsylvania probably has the most underground illegal gambling operations in the state.