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NEWS RELEASE

OFFICE OF THE UNITED STATES ATTORNEY

WESTERN DISTRICT OF MISSOURI


MATT J. WHITWORTH


Contact Don Ledford, Public Affairs ● (816) 426-4220 ● 400 East Ninth Street, Room 5510 ● Kansas City, MO 64106

www.usdoj.gov/usao/mow/index.html


JUNE 1, 2009

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE


WEST PLAINS MAN PLEADS GUILTY TO

ILLEGAL GAMBLING BUSINESS,

FACES $200,000 JUDGMENT


            SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Matt J. Whitworth, Acting United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced today that a West Plains, Mo., man pleaded guilty in federal court to his role in a conspiracy to operate an illegal gambling business.

 

            Morris Guy Ramseur, 62, of West Plains, waived his right to an indictment and pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Richard E. Dorr on Friday, May 29, to a federal information that charges him with participating in a conspiracy to operate an illegal gambling business.


            Ramseur admitted that he was involved in an illegal gambling business from May 1997 to January 2005. That business involved maintaining quarter slide machines, video slot/poker machines, and phone card/pull tab machines in convenience stores, restaurants, bars, laundromats, and other business establishments throughout southern Missouri in Howell, Wright, Texas, Oregon, and Douglas counties and elsewhere.


            Ramseur had a business arrangement with the owners of the business establishments in which his gambling devices were located. The business establishment redeemed winning tickets/coupons from the video slot machines and phone card/pull tab machines for cash, merchandise and/or services. The quarter slide machines paid the winning customers directly, in the form of currency. Ramseur reimbursed each business for the amount the business had paid out to the winning customers. Ramseur and the business then split the net proceeds of the gambling devices equally, each retaining one-half of the net proceeds.


            Ramseur also allowed patrons to redeem winning tickets by mailing the tickets to him at his business, Games People Play, Ltd, located in West Plains. In return, Ramseur and/or his co-conspirators mailed the winning patron currency in the amount reflected on the winning tickets/coupons.


            Locations in which Ramseur operated these illegal gambling devices included the Lazy Lee Convenience Store in Norwood, Mo., Kenny's Restaurant in West Plains, a building located behind the One Stop Convenience Store in West Plains, the Plumber’s Junction Convenience Store in Douglas County, Mo., a business in Thayer, Mo., and Carlotta’s Restaurant in Howell County, Mo. Ramseur also operated numerous gambling devices in the Eastern District of Missouri, for which he mailed patrons gambling winnings.


            The readily provable amount of proceeds Ramseur obtained from his illegal gambling business was $200,000. Under the terms of today’s plea agreement, the court will enter a money judgment against Ramseur in the amount of $200,000.


Types of Gambling Machines


            The quarter slide machines Ramseur operated were designed to allow patrons to place one quarter at a time in the slot, which allowed the quarter to fall onto a moving platform which was stacked full of quarters. If the patron was lucky, the quarter which was placed inside this machine would force numerous other quarters to fall out of the machine for the patron to retrieve.

 

            The second type of machine Ramseur operated was a video slot/poker machine. These machines typically accepted currency in denominations of $1, $5, $10, $20, $50 and $100. Once currency was placed in the machine, a patron obtained a number of credits with which to gamble. The patron could cash out winning credits for cash or coupons which were redeemable for merchandise at the establishment where the machines were located.


            Ramseur also operated a third type of gambling device known as a phone card/pull tab machine. These machines were designed to allow patrons to purchase pull tabs using U.S. currency. In exchange, the patron would receive a pull tab which would reward the patron with a number of free telephone minutes (usually a small number of minutes per pull tab), and sometimes a coupon redeemable for cash or merchandise within the business.


            All three types of machines are deemed illegal gambling devices by the Missouri Gaming Commission.


            Under federal statutes, Ramseur is subject to a sentence of up to five years in federal prison without parole, plus a fine up to $250,000. A sentencing hearing will be scheduled after the completion of a presentence investigation by the United States Probation Office.


            This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Robyn L. McKee. It was investigated by the Missouri State Highway Patrol, South Central Drug Task Force and IRS-Criminal Investigation.

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This news release, as well as additional information about the office of the United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, is available on-line at

www.usdoj.gov/usao/mow/index.html