It began with a complaint in November 2021 about illegal gambling taking place at a Boynton Beach adult arcade. Months of undercover work ensued, with four undercover visits by agents of the Palm Beach Sheriff’s Office. It ended on June 6 when a raid of the arcade found 30 Vegas-style slots in operation.
Unfortunately for the arcade’s ownership, the only legal casinos in Florida are run by Native American tribes.
During the raid of the Crowne Arcade on June 6, “arcade” Manager Marquita Margadonna was arrested and charged with four offenses.
- Money laundering
- Keeping a gambling house
- Acting as an agent or employee of a gambling house
- Unlawful possession of a slot machine device or devices
Margadonna was booked into Palm Beach jail and released on a $9,000 bond.
Comments on the Crowne Arcade’s Facebook page indicated the place was operating as an illegal gambling den. The comments were from more than a year ago.
Patron reviews were mostly negative. They also openly discussed the business practices of the arcade as those of a gambling operation.
Agents played Vegas-style machines on each visit
As recorded in the affidavit, Palm Beach undercover agents visited the Crowne on four separate occasions. They spoke with Margadonna as well as a cashier who went by the name of Vinnie. The cashier was the main point of contact for the agents. Vinnie regularly offered them the arcade’s “match play” deal, where the arcade would match a customer’s first $10 bet.
The agents played Vegas-style slot machines on their visits, usually cashing out between $3 to $5 in winnings. They inquired about the arcade’s “max bets.” Vinnie directed them to the “Max $10,000” machines. The machines paid out up to $10,000. Digital recording devices captured all information.
Margadonna greeted them on at least one occasion, but only in passing.
Arcade was part of much larger operation
Vincenzo Magnone owned the Crowne Arcade. Facebook posts indicate that it may have gone bankrupt in April.
The sheriff’s affidavit says Magnone met with a Det. Venezia on a number of occasions during the undercover operation at the Crowne. Magnone would pay off or collect money won or lost from Venezia in his illegal bookmaking operation.
Magnone also divulged to Venezia during these meetings “that he has utilized the illegal proceeds derived from the bookmaking operation to invest in multiple business ventures, which included arcades, located in Palm Beach County.”
As a result, the Broward County Sheriff’s Office “established probable cause that the Crowne Arcade is owned and operated by Vincenzo Magnone and the location is utilized to facilitate illegal bookmaking and gambling operations while providing the guise of a legitimate business.”
Magnone could also face federal charges for money laundering.
Raid coincides with ‘Gray’ machine action by FGCC
This raid also comes at the same time as the Florida Gaming Control Commission (FGCC) has taken aim at “gray” gaming establishments in and around Jacksonville. Gray slot machines exist in the gray area between slot machines and arcade games.
Proprietors of gray gaming establishments claim the machines are not technically illegal. This claim is dubious under scrutiny. They have proliferated in Jacksonville, even spurring some politicians to legalize and regulate them The FGCC has taken the opposite approach and aims to shut them down.
Magnone owns a number of “entertainment only” establishments. It is unlikely that he is alone in the scheme.