EAST LIVERPOOL - After a state investigation, the owner of Berdines Tavern and Patio along Lisbon Street was charged with operating a gambling house, and a bartender faces a gambling charge.
According to information from the Ohio Department of Public Safety, the investigation started on July 19, the offense occurred on Sept. 23, and charges were officially filed on Oct. 2.
On July 19, the Akron district of the Ohio Investigative Unit received an anonymous complaint that three, illegal, poker machines were operating at Berdines Tavern. The machines were reportedly paying out in cash.
An agent entered the establishment on July 28 and noticed three electronic video machines along the west wall of the premises in a room off of the main bar area, according to the investigative report. The machines were reportedly lit and operating.
On Aug. 24, the same agent entered Berdines Tavern and again observed three machines at the same location operating.
Two agents entered the establishment on Sept. 23 at approximately 2:15 p.m., according to the report. The agents walked to the main bar, requested two beers from the bartender, and one of the agents approached one of the poker machines and placed $20 in the machine and started to play, according to the report.
The second agent put $70 in a separate machine and started to play.
The first agent printed out a ticket showing $25 and handed it to a bartender who then exited the bar area and walked into a room east of where the machines were located, according to the initial report. The female bartender, later identified as Linda K. McEldowney, 53, of Gonzales Avenue, East Liverpool, handed the $25 in U.S. currency to the agent.
The money was collected as evidence.
After obtaining a search warrant on Oct. 1, agents went to Berdines Tavern the next day and executed the warrant at 6:10 p.m.
According to the report, agents advised the owner, Robert A. Berdine, 67, of Lisbon Street, East Liverpool, of the search warrant and asked him if he had keys to the padlocks on the machines. Berdine reportedly told agents he did not have the keys, and the East Liverpool Fire Department was summoned to help open the machines.
Agents also learned that alleged payout money was stored in a safe near the ticket printout device. Berdine reportedly gave agents the key to the safe, the report notes.
McEldowney, who reportedly arrived at Berdines Tavern during the search, was identified as the bartender on duty and summoned to court on a charge of gambling.
Agents issued three summonses to Berdine including one count of possessing criminal tools, one count of gambling and one count of operating a gambling house.
The report indicates that agents asked Berdine how long he had the machines, and Berdine voluntarily stated that he had the machines for a couple of months, and he got them from Three Rivers.
When asked if he got a cut of the profits taken in from the machines, Berdine voluntarily stated that it was a 60/40 cut with Three Rivers taking 60 percent and 40 percent getting returned to Berdine, the report states.
Those charged were released from the scene after the Sept. 23 search.
Berdine's recognizance bond was set at $5,000 and he is scheduled for a pretrial hearing at 1:30 p.m. Nov. 9 on the charge of operating a gambling house.
McEldowney's recognizance bond was also set at $5,000, and she is to also appear in East Liverpool Municipal Court at 1:30 p.m. Nov. 9 for the gambling charge.