Local News

Three face indictments connected to illegal sweepstakes parlors

Posted January 8, 2014

— A Wake County grand jury indicted three men Tuesday on charges of gambling in connection with them allegedly operating illegal sweepstakes machines, Wake County District Attorney Colon Willoughby said Wednesday.

The indictments against Chi Hun Kim, Arken Elhicheri and Waheeda Ammeri come as law enforcement authorities in Wake County have stepped up efforts to shut down sweepstakes cafes since December 2012, when the North Carolina Supreme Court upheld a 2010 state law banning the establishments.

Kim runs Treasure Sweepstakes at 3689 New Bern Ave. while Elhicheri and Ammeri operate Lucky 22 at 7440 Louisburg Road – both in Raleigh – authorities said.

Warrants for their arrests have not yet been served.

Since the state Supreme Court ruling, some counties have made strides in shutting down parlors, but mixed rulings on related charges in lower courts prompted other counties to wait before enforcing the law.

Willoughby instructed Wake County authorities in April to start enforcing the ban, and in June, the Wake County Sheriff's Office sent an undercover investigator to the businesses, said Sheriff Donnie Harrison.

"We started our investigation. We took it slowly," Harrison said. "We wanted to make sure we were right."

Authorities in Cumberland, Harnett and Durham counties were among the first in the state to begin enforcing the ban since the state Supreme Court ruling.

Willoughby said Wake investigators have been working hard behind the scenes and that more indictments involving other businesses are likely.

"It is the law. The legislature decides what is and is not illegal," he said. "If they determine something is illegal, then we try to take efforts to enforce the laws as they pass them."

Sweepstakes cafes, which allow people to play fast-moving computer games that mimic Vegas-style slots, became popular in North Carolina after the General Assembly banned stand-alone video poker games in 2006.

Proponents say participating in a sweepstakes is no different than a game offered by a fast-food restaurant. Opponents, however, complain such venues attract trouble and crime.


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  • WRALwontdeletemyaccount Jan 14, 2014

    The State Lottery doesn't want the competition.... that's the real motivation.

  • Rebelyell55 Jan 10, 2014

    Harnett co. inforce the law? Where did that come from, as far I've seen they're still up and running. Wonder what this deal was where those folks got all them donation from the guy who got charged for running these computer games? Anything that is controlled by a computer can be fixed, so dont' for a minute think these machines are paying out 85%.

  • less_govt_is_better_govt Jan 9, 2014

    Lol look at Willoughby pandering like he is just "doing his job"

    Willoughby needs a good federal investigation.

    Colon the legislature says what is legal and then the wake county Leo's who answer his beck and call then enforce the law to his interpretation.

    Cases are easy to win if you interpret the law, allow deputies to file malicious charges, and then work with them to obtain a conviction using only the Leo's word as the on"evidence".Meanwhile if evidence favoring the suspects not guilt or innocence doesn't get written down it never happened, that is how easy it is to get a conviction in wake county's kangaroo court

  • dwr1964 Jan 8, 2014

    We are not allowed to gamble at any establishment that is not the state run gambling. You cannot waste your money on stupid decisions in gambling. Be smart. Lose your money to a broke government.

  • toptrey Jan 8, 2014

    Raleigh issues a privilege license for Sweepstakes - $1000 per computer yearly. Sweepstakes allow the user to use a computer , internet , and play the games - the games payout 85% of what the customers pay. Much better odds than the lottery, It's not about crime. Its about government telling people what they can do with their money.

  • less_govt_is_better_govt Jan 8, 2014

    Lol!!!! It must be a re-election year in wake county for the good ole' boys club!!!!!!

    Someone should ask Donnie why he changed department policy requiring deputies to include exculpatory evidences on incident reports....

    From 2001 until 2011 there was no department policy requiring deputies to include this information then all of a sudden it is there?

    FBI and the US Dept of Justice should take a long look into the wake county sheriff and his good ole' boy friend Colon Willoughby.....

  • katzpauz Jan 8, 2014

    @gretawire It has often been said that a grand jury will indict a ham sandwich.....

  • michaelllee11 Jan 8, 2014

    So the state is allowed to run a gambling ring(lottery), but citizens trying to make a dollar cant? I call this baloney!!

  • disgusted2010 Jan 8, 2014

    Perhaps one day people will wake up and see this for what it really is: Organized Crime. The only difference is the audacity of these criminals, challenging laws and hiring former Supreme Court Justices to keep their insane allegations in court and keep law enforcement out. Maybe one day the FBI will wake up and start doing their jobs again and put these criminals where they belong.

  • dollibug Jan 8, 2014

    Grand Jury just *RUBBERSTAMPS* the indictments which the state presents....they do NOT have to present ANY EVIDENCE what so ever. They go on what is said.