Once upon a time, video stores were everywhere. From major chains like Blockbuster Video to your local hole in the wall rental shop, there was no better way to watch movies in the era of VHS and even DVD. Today, there are very few such stores still in operation, and it turns out there might be even fewer of them than we think, as one such shop in Georgia was just busted because it was actually all a front for an illegal gambling operation.
The store, located in Gwinnett County, Georgia was recently raided by police. The owner was arrested and computers and other items were seized. The store owner has been accused of running an illegal sportsbook, taking bets on whatever sporting event happened to be in season.
Seeing the details now, it's certainly clear there was something else going on here. It seems the majority of the location's stock was in VHS tapes, not even DVDs, and Atlanta's WSB-TV says that the most recent movie on the shelf was from 2007, so nobody even bothered to update the inventory for more than a decade.
As illegal front businesses go, a video store makes a lot of sense. It's in a public place, making it easy for the customers you actually want to find you and do business, but it's not the sort of place that you're likely to have random civilians wander into, so you don't actually have to run the fake business simply to keep up appearances.
If you're wondering why something like this wasn't caught sooner, it seems it actually was. According to the report, police knew the video store was a front for years, however, it took them some time to get an undercover agent inside the gambling ring in order to collect the necessary evidence to be able to prove what was known. That finally happened several weeks ago, allowing the police to move in now.
Between the launch of Netflix's DVD's by mail rental service that meant nobody had to leave the house to get the latest movies, and the boom in streaming service and digital rental platforms that followed, the classic video store just doesn't have a place in the modern entertainment business anymore.
With that being the case, this situation does probably make slightly suspect any other currently functioning video store in the country. Especially if the bulk of your stock is still in VHS format and not DVDs or Blu-rays, how are there enough people still looking to rent movies from a storefront to keep such a place in business?
While the switch all makes sense from a technical standpoint, it's still a sad state of affairs. For many of us, it was where our love of film actually came from, meeting and hanging out with other lovers of film and just talking about the movies we loved. Thank god for the internet I guess.