This time of year, thousands of people make their brackets for the NCAA college basketball tournament, but not many of them go to jail for it. In the suburb of Alpharetta, Georgia, just north of Atlanta, police from four jurisdictions detained over five dozen people at a private party at a bar and grill who were gambling on March Madness games.
Law enforcement from Alpharetta, Milton, Johns Creek, and Roswell all took part in the raid at Pepperoni’s Tavern on Old Milton Parkway. Police say 65 people were inside the restaurant, including employees and the owner. A large amount of cash and a few handguns were confiscated.
A total of 23 were arrested and hauled off to jail. They’ll likely face illegal gambling and possible weapons charges. We’re told more arrests could be made later.
Investigators originally said the operation centered around the upcoming NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, with bets being made on games. Alpharetta Police maintain the so-called “private party” was less about basketball and actually more about organized gambling.
Alpharetta Police Detective George Gordon gave more details to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
“Alpharetta authorities had previously gathered intelligence regarding the planned operation of a large gambling event,” Gordon said in an email.
“Tonight, authorities moved against the gambling operation and detained approximately 65 people,” Gordon said, adding that police found “a large gambling operation in progress based upon the NCAA basketball tournament.”
Gordon said 23 of those detained were charged with illegal gambling, and the others were interviewed and released, but could face future charges.
He said police confiscated several handguns and an undisclosed amount of cash.
Pepperoni’s Tavern advertises March Madness contests on their website offering free food and drinks to winners. Many of the defendants claimed that they weren’t doing anything worse than the countless people who bet on March Madness games in office pools and other contests.
In an update from the Alpharetta Police Department, nine were charged with gambling, six were charged with commercial gambling and keeping a gambling place, and one was charged with disorderly conduct. Authorities interviewed several others, and they may face charges later on.
Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock / SAJE