ROCKINGHAM — Five Richmond County convenience stores were raided by agents of N.C. Alcohol Law Enforcement and deputies with the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office on Thursday for “illegal casinos.”
According to a press release issued Thursday night, agents seized 14 illegal gambling machines, documents and cash from the locations, four of which are ABC-licensed businesses.
The locations hit were Duncan’s Food Store in Cordova, The Country Store, Nina’s Mart and Glenn’s Bait & Tackle in East Rockingham, and Carroll’s Pantry in Ellerbe.
The ALE’s Gaming Section and the sheriff’s office started a joint investigation “after receiving complaints from community members about illegal gambling,” according to a press release. Undercover ALE special agents confirmed winners were given cash payouts, which is a violation of state gambling and gaming laws.
“We have been following the court proceedings related to the gaming industry very closely and the gaming machines related to these search warrants are clearly a violation of the law,” said Sheriff James E. Clemmons, Jr. “We will continue to investigate these type crimes, we have given written notice in the past stating that these gaming systems are illegal and that has not changed, the majority of these locations shut down willingly. Thank you to the ALE gaming section for their efforts in these investigations and their on-going efforts.”
The release states: “North Carolina State law prohibits players from being awarded cash or credits for merchandise valued at more than $10 from a video gaming machine, whether it is a game of chance or skill. Cash payouts for arcade-style games, such as pinball, Pac-Man, Donkey Kong or Frogger are also illegal. The games played on these illegal machines, such as video slot games, video poker games and video keno games are also the most common throughout the State.”
“North Carolina has gambling laws in place to protect the public. The business model for these illegal locations is based upon players losing more money than they will ever win. The machines are pre-set to ensure they are only profitable for the operators,” said Special Agent in Charge Chris Poole, head of ALE’s Gaming Section. “These illegal gaming machines have been widely described as the ‘crack cocaine’ of gambling, because of the detrimental financial and emotional effects toll they have had on so many families.”
Agents say violation reports will be submitted to both the North Carolina ABC and Education Lottery Commissions, which could result in fines, suspension or revocation of their permits.
The investigation is ongoing and criminal charges are expected in the future.
No charges were listed in the release.