Bristol and Rhode Island State Police say they seized five illegal gambling machines and $11,000 in gambling proceeds from the Bristol Sports Club on Wood Street Wednesday morning.
Police say gambling was taking place at the club for more than a year, possibly raking in up to $40,000 a month. “Employees of the club were well aware this was taking place,” said State Police Lt. Col. Michael Winquist.
The club is private, members only, with roots in the Portuguese community. Police arrested three men: 76-year-old Antonio DeMatos of Bristol, who they say is the club president; 71-year-old Norberto Pacheco, a bartender, also of Bristol; and 55-year-old Kevin Connolly of Canton, Massachusetts.
Investigators claim Connolly maintained the machines.
Police say the machines were on the second floor of the club. One would have to punch a pass code into a key pad to get up there. But police say players would bring receipts downstairs to the bar to cash in any winnings.
Winquist said, “Right near the doorway that led up to the second floor where the gambling machines are located was directions on how to play the games, so I don't think it was a secret for anyone that frequented the club.” All three suspects are free after initial court appearances.
A woman who answered the door at DeMatos' home said he was not there and she couldn't comment.
Pacheco spoke to NBC 10 on the phone. He said, "This is not my fault."
Bristol Police did not shut the club down, but may try to take action in regard to its liquor license.
“It had a good history in town. It appears the leadership has led it astray,” said Deputy Chief Steven Contente. Police say there could be more arrests in the case.