Deputies Shut Down Illegal Gambling At Grape Festival

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The Washington County Sheriff’s Office shut down a gambling game at the Tontitown Grape Festival after deputies said it broke state laws.

A dart game in the carnival portion of the festival asks patrons to risk their cash for the chance to win more money. Such exchanges count as illegal gambling, said Kelly Cantrell, public information officer for the sheriff’s office.

Washington County Prosecuting Attorney, John Threet, says the game violated the Chucky Cheese Law.

“You can play those big grab games and those sort of things as long as the accumulative value of your prizes does not exceed $12.50,” said Threet.

Mitchell Brothers Amusement runs the carnival games and has vendors that travel across the country from fair to fair.

The owner’s daughter, Katie Mitchell, says they were not aware the game was illegal.  The carnival is from Louisiana and Mitchell says gambling laws are different there and they just came from Mississippi where the vendor was able to operate that game.

"In Louisiana, there`s a lot of different things, gambling is okay down there, even like the splash downs the quarter to penny falls that`s okay down there and it`s just a little new to us," said Mitchell.

“We are really sorry about it we were not aware of any of it," she said. "I know that we`ve been coming here for awhile, but like I said I don`t think she`s been here and I don`t think we`ve had that game and she thought that it would be okay since she had it up a couple of weeks ago and though it was okay to put it up."

The game organizer closed the booth without incident Wednesday night, and no arrests were made. The game will no longer be allowed at the festival, Cantrell said.

The 114th Tontitown Grape Festival began Tuesday and extends through Saturday.