Video gambling operation dismantled, officials say
East Washington man accused of generating millions through scheme covering four counties
A multimillion-dollar video gambling operation in Allegheny, Fayette, Washington and Westmoreland counties has been shut down, state authorities say.
State Attorney General Josh Shapiro’s office announced Thursday that state police have filed nearly three dozen charges against Anthony Zenner, 58, of East Washington.
The attorney general’s office said Mr. Zenner ran his illegal operation in 33 bars and clubs throughout the four counties and alleged that he pulled in $7 million in profits over the past decade.
Mr. Zenner was arrested Thursday. He is charged with corrupt organizations, dealing in proceeds of unlawful activities and gambling devices.
“He cooperated with the initial search of his home and his business. We are just getting the charges today and intend to defend against all of them,” said Mr. Zenner’s attorney, Christopher L. Blackwell.
Authorities said Mr. Zenner owns Zenner Vending, which gave bars, clubs and restaurants at least 142 illegal gambling devices from 2006 to 2017.
“Today we’ve ended Tony Zenner’s video gambling operation,” Mr. Shapiro said. “This defendant raked in millions of dollars in illegal proceeds, draining money from Pennsylvanians — and from the commonwealth of Pennsylvania — over the last decade.”
The arrest was the culmination of an investigation that began in 2016 and involved undercover surveillance. Bars and clubs that had the machines paid cash to players who won credits, the attorney general’s office said. A statewide investigating grand jury determined that Mr. Zenner split his profits evenly with the venue owners. The attorney general alleged that Mr. Zenner raked in $14,470 a week.
Mr. Blackwell disputed that number and said his client’s vending machine business generates income from an array of devices.
“This is a legitimate vending machine company. He has everything from dartboards, pool tables to soda pop machines, snack machines,” Mr. Blackwell said.
“He obtained a license to place these machines within their municipality. He paid the appropriate taxes and the licensing fees that go along with that. So we’re going to look at each and every location, and there’s 33 of them, to determine which ones he had a license for and paid the municipality for the privilege of putting a machine