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Cumberland Raids Force Video Poker Operators to Fold

Posted August 3, 2007

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— Authorities confiscated 64 illegal video poker machines and nearly $8,000 in cash in Cumberland County late Thursday and early Friday, they said.

Members of the Cumberland County Sheriff's Office, along with agents from the State Bureau of Investigation and state Division of Alcohol Law Enforcement, searched more than 60 locations, including private homes, as part of "Operation Empty Pockets."

"I hope this will send a message that we're out there (and) we're going to continue to be monitoring this," Cumberland County Sheriff Earl "Moose" Butler said.

The machines were found across the county, including some in Spring Lake, Hope Mills and Stedman, authorities said. They have been placed in cells in the former county jail and will be destroyed after the criminal cases are resolved.

"At some point, we will destroy them. That's what we hope. They're illegal. There's no way they can be made legal in the state," Butler said.

Thirty-five citations were issued, all for misdemeanors. Investigators said they expected to make more arrests.

Video poker became illegal in North Carolina on July 1. State law allowed up to three machines in any establishment until last year, when lawmakers approved a one-year phase-out of the games.

Butler said area businesses were notified of the new rules, but some chose to continue operating video poker machines.

"They know what's legal and illegal," he said. "They can talk all they want about, 'We didn't know this.' They know. We've been dealing with the stuff for several years."

State law makes it a felony to operate five or more of the machines, and Butler said he expects felony counts to be among new charges.

"People who push these machines over the years, they say it's a mom-and-pop operation. Let me tell you, it's big bucks," he said.


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  • JonahB Aug 4, 2007

    I have been playing poker since I was 12 years old. It was a family tradition and I grew up playing poker. I enjoy playing poker very much so. I have traveled to Vegas, Atlantic City, and various local places here in NC to play poker. There are millions of people who play poker right here in NC on a weekly basis and it is great. If NC had a way to tax poker games, it would be fine with us. Actually you supposed to pay taxes on your winnings and you can file as a professional poker player here in NC where it is "illegal", I find that funny. There are many other states where poker is legal and it is taxed. Why do we "NC" have to be the "Mayberry" and lag behind the rest of nation. Bingo, heh! We have a dam right to spend our money on recreation as we please. Here is an example. Take 100 bucks and play poker once a week, you have a chance of winning, have a good time, no problem. On the other hand, go out drinking, get a DWI, spend 100 bucks and have a hangover. You decide.

  • wife-of-a-concrete-man Aug 4, 2007


    those who become addicted and ruin their family? they CHOSE to play that poker machine, they CHOSE to buy those lottery tickets, they CHOSE to go to the bingo hall, they CHOSE to take a drink, they C-H-O-S-E!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • missdawg Aug 4, 2007

    lol@dragonslayer - "I have a question . Would illegal slot machines smuggled in from Mexico be ok? They cant drive drunk , steal your identity ,drive with out insurance or leave the scene of an accident and if they had baby slot machines the should automatically be legal ."
    That is hilarious. Apparently that is our state's mentality. Illegals are OK, but God forbid we have poker machines anywhere.
    And to educgrad, who said "what about all those who become addicted to gambling and the families they ruin", maybe those people shouldn't be playing because they obviously aren't smart enough to decide when they need to put food on the table or gamble. I'm sorry, but that's the truth. The government does way too much babysitting as it is. I sure don't like being told how or how not to spend my hard-earned money, especially by a government that wants to take more and more of it every day.

  • educgrad Aug 3, 2007

    what about all those who become addicted to gambling and the families they ruin

  • bwlewis00 Aug 3, 2007

    Looks like Cumberland County may be eating crow on this one. From the video it looks like a lot of the machines that they seized were not illegal under the North Carolina General Statues.

    They seized a lot of those tabletop machines that you see in bars that dont even pay out. They just had a poker game on them. Heck, if they turn out to be illegal it looks like I may have to erase my computer hard drive since I have a Texas hold em game on it.

  • zablalbaz Aug 3, 2007

    Darn...Guess I'll have to do all my illegal video poker gambling on the Internet now...

  • weasleyes Aug 3, 2007

    The legislature's mania against poker is crazy (but I repeat myself.) These idiots rob us every single day, with inane taxes, fees, etc. Yet they won't let us legally play a game with OUR money, because they want ALL of it! I agree with Nancy. It is time to vote ALL of them out, at ALL levels. I have even heard rumors of police who are going to break up a 25 cent game, among friends and family, that has been going on for almost 20 years. It is simply a monthly reunion, among family and friends. Is this Gestapo tactics or what????????? Is this still America??

  • dragonslayer Aug 3, 2007

    I have a question . Would illegal slot machines smuggled in from Mexico be ok? They cant drive drunk , steal your identity ,drive with out insurance or leave the scene of an accident and if they had baby slot machines the should automatically be legal . They will raid slot machines but ignore drug dealers gang members and child molesters , but you wont gamble in NC by golly .The lottery is why Jim Black is in prison today.

  • wife-of-a-concrete-man Aug 3, 2007

    I don't know which is more interesting- your statement or your screen name, "TAX MAN"... :)

  • Tax Man Aug 3, 2007

    If you had a machine when they were legal and kept it, but did not offer it for use by the public, is that legal? Seems like just a computer - these do not pay any real prizes, it was the establishment that would pay out the winnings. Guess NC does not want it's folks to have fun unless they can find a way to get tax money out of it. What a waste of taxpayer money - what about all the home invasions, murders, drugs, rapes - oh yeah, those criminals are harder to catch than some folks just playing a video game. I have video poker on my computer - am I breaking the law? Next thing you know the state will want to tax the air you breathe.