Undercover Pinellas County sheriff's deputies removed numerous computers and computer equipment from two computer entertainment centres this week, claiming that they were closing down illegal Internet gambling operations.

Officers served a search warrant on the Tarpon Springs businesses in an afternoon raid in which 39 computers and a motor vehicle were seized, although no arrests appeared to have been made. It is believed the authorities were following up on an informant's tip-off, and that an undercover investigation has been taking place since last October.

A police spokesman claimed that patrons purchased cards and then swiped these to gain access to the Internet. The dollar value of the card was converted into points that were used to play slot machine-type games. Any points won by customers during the games could then be redeemed for cash.

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