CRESTVIEW, Fla., Nov. 21, 2022—A Winter Garden, Fla., man was arrested earlier this month on a misdemeanor charge of keeping a gambling house on North Ferdon Boulevard in Crestview.
Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office investigators said Lin Liang Zhuo, 56, habitually kept and permitted a gaming room and slot machines at the Lucky Pearl Internet Café located in the Northview Plaza shopping center next to the Dollar General.
During the undercover investigation, an employee told investigators there were internet slots and stand-along slot machines people could play that accepted cash, and that people could win real money and cash out on site or use CashApp to collect their winnings, according to an OCSO news release.
When asked if the Lucky Pearl was “like a casino, like in Biloxi,” a clerk replied, “yes, pretty much,” according to the arrest report.
During an October 2021 investigation, an employee informed two undercover investigators that the most the Lucky Pearl paid out was $5,000, but the winner could only collect $500 cash per day, according to the report.
Investigators said records reveal from Nov. 11, 2020, to Nov. 12, 2021, there were approximately 23,413 transactions paid to the Lucky Pearl totaling $758,905 via CashApp by persons believed to be customers.
During that same approximate time frame $13,072 was paid out to customers via CashApp, with a majority of the comments citing “winnings,” according to the release.
Additionally, the Lucky Pearl Facebook page posted several times claiming it paid out cash to winners Wednesdays through Sundays. Several customers posted about their winnings, according to the report.
The Okaloosa Multi-Agency Drug Task Force executed a search warrant Nov. 21, 2021, and found multiple stand-alone slot machines and approximately 43 computers with games installed such as Golden Dragon, Dragon City, Super Keno and other gambling sites. The task force collected $8,922 from the slot machines.
No other sources of income, such as internet services, merchandise, food or beverages were for sale inside the Lucky Pearl, according to the release.
Zhou was arrested on a misdemeanor charge of keeping an illegal gambling house.
Staff and OCSO news release