Police and authorities in the town of Gibsonville, NC seized over 200 sweepstakes machines last week and charged three local store owners after determining that certain video game machines were breaking sweepstakes law.
The action comes after a November State Court of Appeals ruling that deemed certain video game machines illegal. This was the first major raid on sweepstakes machines since the ruling.
“If it was legal I wouldn’t be saying anything, but it’s not,” Police Chief Ron Parrish told Fox 8 News.
Parrish also said he warned owners about a potential raid two weeks ago, after several undercover law enforcement agents identified cafes where the machines were being used. “I took a copy of the appeals court ruling and delivered it to each location and told them specifically that it would be the policy of the Gibsonville Police Department to enforce the state statute.”
Search warrants were issued to search several businesses for the machines, and three business owners were ultimately charged with operating illegal machines by North Carolina Alcohol Law Enforcement special agents. Each business owner is being cited rather than physically arrested and jailed, in line with the November ruling.
Over 200 illegal sweepstakes game machines and $14,277 in cash were seized in the raids.
Most sweepstakes are games of chance, like online instant win games, scratch-and-win cards and random drawings. Strict laws are applied to sweepstakes to prevent them from operating like gambling. The North Carolina government determined that these machines cross that line.
However, some locals are not on board with the crackdown and call the ruling hypocritical. According to these detractors, lawmakers shouldn’t be able to ban these machines for private owners while funding gambling through the state lottery.
Chief Parrish, however, remains supportive of the ruling. “While some users may find the machines to be an idle amusement, others become addicted and lives are destroyed,” he told WFMY2 News. “The majority of residents would like to see our City of Roses remain the friendly, family-oriented community that it is, and removing these sweepstakes operations will help preserve the wholesomeness of our small town.”
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