The owner of a New Windsor bar and restaurant was fined $500 yesterday after pleading guilty to possession of two electronic video slot machines. Prosecutors say they will seek a jail term for similar offenses at a sentencing hearing scheduled for today.
On Oct. 2, a Carroll County Circuit Court jury convicted Henry F. "Fred" Ross, owner of the New Windsor Inn, on two counts of allowing video machines altered for gambling purposes to be used at his establishment.
Police seized two video slot machines from the New Windsor Inn April 12. While Ross was awaiting trial in that case, state police seized two more machines at the New Windsor Inn on June 14.
Yesterday, Judge Luke K. Burns Jr. fined Ross $1,000 on each count in the June seizure and immediately suspended all but $500.
The difference between "for amusement only" video machines and those identified as being slot machines was explained during the jury trial before Circuit Judge Raymond E. Beck Sr. Authorities said a legal device becomes an illegal slot machine when it is altered so that players can deposit multiple amounts of money, usually $1 to $20, and accumulate free games that could be cashed in for 5 cents a game.
The Windsor Inn machines were set at a 55 percent payout rate, they said.
Illegal machines also have "knock-off" switches or meters that track the number of free games earned and the number of free games knocked off, or subtracted, without being played, they said.
Ross, 49, did not comment during yesterday's proceeding.
Stephen R. Tully, a Baltimore lawyer representing Ross, said his client "now understands that such devices are illegal, and he will not put in any more machines in his establishment," which he has owned and operated for eight years.
"Approximately a half-dozen others are operating slot machines in the county, and we will be going after them," said prosecutor Jerry Joyce.
Pub Date: 12/11/96