Authorities were searching for another suspect after they busted up an illegal arcade last month. Now, a former owner of the raided Boynton Beach arcade is in custody.
The Crowne Arcade was raided twice in the last two years. Broward County detectives raided it in March 2021. They arrested owner Vincenzo Magnone, 38. Last month, the Palm Beach Sheriff’s Office also raided the illegal arcade. They arrested the arcade’s business manager, Marquita Margadonna.
Now, authorities arrested Vincenzo’s younger brother, Antonio Magnone, 35. Antonio was allegedly acting as the owner at that time. He resides in Weirton, WV, but was caught in Ohio. He was then extradited to Florida. Antonio was booked into the Palm Beach County Jail on July 6. He faces 35 felony charges.
- Thirty-two counts of possession of a slot machine
- Money laundering
- Keeping a gambling house
- Being an agent/employee of a gambling house
The transfer of power and a quick sale
After his arrest last year, Vincenzo pleaded guilty to charges related to bookmaking and keeping a gambling house. The court sentenced him to five years probation. After the raid in June, Margadonna told authorities how the transfer of power at the Crowne went down.
After Vincenzo’s arrest, “he kept his distance from the arcade.” Then, Antonio took over the arcade’s day-to-day operations. Antonio allegedly also maintained the same practices as Vincenzo with the aid of Margadonna up until the time of her arrest.
Two days after Margadonna’s arrest, investigators learned that Antonio and Vincenzo sold the Crowne Arcade for $450,000 to Anjaneya Investments Inc. This came immediately after the Palm Beach Sheriff’s affidavit named Antonio in the investigation and cited “probable cause” for apprehension.
Antonio’s arrest report indicates that “Antonio was very motivated in selling the arcade very quickly and the deal had to be done immediately.” The Crowne has recently been renamed the “X Arcade” and signs say that it is under new management.
A Palm Beach judge set Antonio’s bond at $15,000 and let him travel back to West Virginia.
The sheriff’s affidavit indicates the Magnones may have had a hand in other illegal operations in Florida. This information has not, as of yet, led to any further raids. Vincenzo has a history of illegal gambling. In 2015, he was arrested in Wheeling, WV, on charges of operating an illegal gambling house.
Illegal gambling operations face raids and robberies
In 2021, similar raids conducted in Seminole County led to 18 arrests and the closure of eight illegal gambling houses. These houses operated similarly to the Crowne Arcade. They posed as something innocuous (a billiard hall or a pawn shop) and targeted an older demographic. The arcade did not make payouts to winners on multiple occasions, according to customers.
Days after the June raid on the Crowne, three robberies (and also possibly a fourth) at casino arcades in Lee County have taken place.
At three of the casino arcades – the White Sands, the Lucky Turtle and the Black Horse – robbers held the attendants at gunpoint. They made off with an undisclosed amount of cash at the Lucky Turtle. The robbers did not get cash from the White Sands or Black Horse. All three arcades were also within a five-minute drive of each other. The robberies also took place on the morning and afternoon of July 7.
The previous evening, two men entered the Vegas Experience Arcade and played various slot machines for several hours. At around 11:30, security video shows them furtively opening the lockbox on one machine and emptying it of $10,000 to $20,000 in coins.
In at least three of the robberies, customers had no idea a robbery was taking place. That’s shocking. Cameras show the men carrying guns into the arcade. A witness at the Lucky Turtle talked about his experience.
“I was sitting at the first chair inside the door and playing and within five minutes the lady that I guess runs it, came running out, told me that she just got robbed. I should have seen something but I didn’t see nothing. So I mean they kind of know what they’re doing, evidently.”
Episodes show the dangers of black-market gambling
The dubious nature of these underground gambling halls underscores the dangers of black-market gambling. They are also difficult to identify. Their insufficient security systems also fail to properly protect customers.
More legal opportunities to gamble in more convenient locations would be the most effective way to combat this.
Looking to the future, the 2024 elections represent the next opportunity for Floridians to vote on expanding legal gambling in the state.