Local News

Cumberland authorities raid sweepstakes parlors

Posted March 26, 2013

— Three months after the North Carolina Supreme Court upheld the state's ban on video sweepstakes machines, Cumberland County authorities began cracking down Tuesday on sweepstakes businesses.

Deputies raided three Little Vegas Sweepstakes City parlors in Cumberland County, seizing machines and arresting the owner and a few employees.

"We had visited this place before. We knew they were illegal, and they didn't make any bones about it," Sheriff Earl "Moose" Butler said.

Some of the machines removed from the parlors were old-style video poker and keno machines, which have been outlawed in North Carolina for years.

Authorities said they waited to enforce the law so they could review the court ruling and state law and hear sweepstakes' operators arguments.

"We have done everything we could to make sure we're doing the right thing," Butler said. "We're not trying to harass anybody. The message has been out there."

Sweepstakes operators have been trying to stay in business by changing the software that runs the machines.

State law prohibits the "entertaining display" of prizes on the games, so games now feature a "pre-reveal" system. After customers pay, their winnings or losses appear on the screen before they choose to spin.

Cumberland authorities crack down on sweepstakes games Cumberland authorities crack down on sweepstakes games

"The Supreme Court’s ruling is pretty inclusive," Hope Mills Police Chief Joel Acciardo said. "If you actually read it, it doesn’t leave a whole lot of room for software changes. It pretty much says it’s illegal."

Down the road from one of the Little Vegas parlors, the doors were locked and the room dark at Blazin' Sweepstakes. At Palace Sweepstakes, a note on the door says it's closed for "system updates."

"I don’t see why the state would allow it to even open if it was illegal," said Martin Pierce, a would-be customer for Little Vegas.

Pierce said he has won $500 to $600 playing the online games. "I got to find a different hobby, I guess," he said.

Operating sweepstakes machines is a misdemeanor for a first offense and a felony for additional offenses. Butler said players like Pierce also could be cited.

"We will do what it takes to put an end to this criminal activity," the sheriff said, noting that the crackdown would continue.


This story is closed for comments.

Oldest First
View all
  • davisgw Mar 28, 2013

    They raided three and we must have at least fifty operating in the county. Smoke and Mirrors to make Moose and the dept look good.

  • joepro1964 Mar 27, 2013

    Who needs these places anyway, everytime I get on the roads in Fayetteville it's a gamble.

  • tiggerjd3 Mar 26, 2013

    Shame on Moose!! Nothing different here then the lottery. I love to play, set a limit and have won quite a bit. I am also a teacher, and use about 90% of my winnings to supply my classroom with paper, supplies, science labs and others, something the state is lacking. Go check out a teacher store...they give you no breaks and on a teachers salary you cannot afford to buy much. I dont give a dime to NC Lottery...I have not seen any of that money benefit my students. My classroom textbooks are 14 years old...so outdated it is pathetic. But if it is a misdemenor for playing, I will stop today and so will all the extras I use for my job. NC needs to get with the program. This also relaxes me after a long week with unruly teenagers.

  • rdc42179 Mar 26, 2013

    Those Internet parlors should hav sold lottery tickets and big gulp sodas

  • RowdyFriend Mar 26, 2013

    Get 'em, Moose!

  • JonahB Mar 26, 2013

    Once again, I'm just befuzzled at our great leaders of NC. These people are business men and women, not criminal minded street people. They run businesses that create jobs and allow willing customers to enjoy a little gambling without having to reserve flights, rooms, etc. and making out of state trips. Perhaps it is illegal, well who made it that way, NC. They have the power to change it and make it legal but they would rather control our lives or have to attend church on Sunday. Don't they understand that we are not robots, we are not the same, we have different interests. Some like golf, basketball, pool, bingo, lottery, etc. But there are a vast amount of people who, dare I say it here in NC, like to GAMBLE. Oh my God, really, you mean BET on something like pool, poker, slot machines, basketball, football, wow, it's so hard to believe these criminals exist. Its time for change in America, being able to gamble in any state including ours!

  • zl1cor69 Mar 26, 2013

    Man, this is awesome! I`m glad they are getting rid of these game machines that doesn`t hurt anybody and leaving all of the crack/drug houses up and runnung! I will never understand Cumberland County!

  • stymieindurham Mar 26, 2013

    They're still operating in Durham!!!

  • whatelseisnew Mar 26, 2013

    YEt the State is doing the very same thing. Guess they do not want the competition. Once again I will contact my State reps and tell them either make ALL gambling illegal or make ALL gambling legal.

  • affirmativediversity Mar 26, 2013

    because they have nothing better to do!!!!!