Beach Bar Busted for Gambling in Fort Myers, Florida

Gamblers who enjoyed playing slots at the Shamrock Irish Pub beach bar in Fort Myers, Florida will have to look for a new haunt. The restaurant and bar were busted for operating those slot machines illegally over the weekend. Shamrock remains open, minus any way to gamble.

Shamrock owner James Hotz was arrested on Friday and released on bond. When approached by local news at his home on Monday, Hotz declined to comment about the situation and or the charges he faced for offering slot machines with cash payouts at his business.

However, one of Hotz's employees had a bit more to say. Taylor Jousse, a bartender at Shamrock, said it was wrong of the bar to have slot machines. Jousse said Shamrock should never have hosted the slots and felt it was apparent Hotz was “doing it for himself.”

Special agents in Florida launched an investigation of Shamrock in February. They went undercover, posing as customers at the bar for a period of three months from February through April. Agents reported playing casino-style games that offered cash payouts. Money won from the games was paid by Hotz or a bartender.

Gambling is illegal in most of Florida, except at tribal casinos. One of Florida's legal beach casinos that was damaged during Hurricane Irma reopened this week after remodeling.

The Big Easy Casino on Hallandale Beach, formerly known as the Mardi Gras, now features new slot machines, more space, and more lighting. The owners say this is just the beginning and they have more remodeling plans in the works.

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