A Georgia charity running poker tournaments and casino nights on the claim that funds raised would benefit nonprofits has been accused of harboring an illegal gambling den.
The Gwinnett County Police Department, the second-largest police agency in the entire state, has levied accusations that the Little Kings & Queens organization is little more than a guise for an illegal underground casino. Last week, police arrested 51-year-old Dennis Maxwell, the director of the supposed charity, on a felony count of running an illicit gambling scheme and a similar misdemeanor count.
An investigation conducted by the Gwinnett Police Department learned that Little Kings & Queens was running an illegal gambling operation under a guise of a 501(c)(3) charitable organization,” police officer and spokesperson Hideshi Valle said in a release. “As a result, over $30,000 in illegal funds were seized, and the business is closed at this time.”
The Little Kings & Queens website advertises weekly poker tournaments. The charity also says it can provide casino nights with other table games for nonprofits wishing to fundraise through charitable gaming.
Georgia is one of the most restrictive states when it comes to gambling. The state is free of commercial and tribal casinos, and sports betting is additionally outlawed. However, Georgia permits certain forms of charitable gaming, including bingo, raffles, and other small games of chance, so long as the net revenue is donated to nonprofits.
According to tax records reviewed by Gwinnett law enforcement, there is no money trail for where Little Kings & Queens’ net revenue went.
According to the charity’s tax returns for 2016 through 2019, Little Kings & Queens generated total income of more than $3.3 million. Georgia tax laws require that each charitable gaming organization provide in detail where such money went.
Gwinnett law enforcement says Little Kings & Queens’ tax filings simply grouped all distributions into a lump sum itemized as “DONATIONS PAID OUT.” In 2019, the nonprofit claimed it disbursed over $1 million to charities.
Maxwell was released on $1,300 bond over the weekend. The raid seemingly took many regulars at the poker joint by surprise.
“This is just wrong,” said Josh Daniel on Facebook commenting on a post from the organization saying it will be closed until further notice. “Y’all have done nothing but good things for many people and many organizations.”
“What the what?” asked Trey Goodman, also on Facebook. Another person, Beth Murray, said she was “so sorry to hear this” and that the developments are “very unfortunate for the charities.”
Publicized Donations Minimal
Little Kings & Queens’ tax filings do not reveal where the more than $3.3 million in revenue went. However, the poker charity’s website lists recent donations, but the gifts would seemingly come nowhere near the millions the nonprofit raked in and claimed it donated elsewhere.
For example, in January 2022, Little Kings & Queens told the public it made a $9,150 donation to Adventure Bags, an organization that gives displaced children care bags. Little Kings & Queens also says it gave $910 to the Gwinnett County Jail Dog Program and $1,425 to the Lawrenceville Community Food Bank.
Other January donations made public include $531 to the Lupus Foundation of America, $547 to the All About Cats Rescue, $427 to My Sister’s Place, and $765 to Lost-N-Found Youth.
In total, Little Kings & Queens’ public contributions total roughly $13,000 in January 2022. No court date has been set for Maxwell to enter a plea.
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