WJTV News Channel 12 - Hundreds of video gambling machines found in Hoke Co.

Hundreds of video gambling machines found in Hoke Co.

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Deputies from Cumberland and Hoke counties confiscated hundreds of illegal video gambling machines that were in storage in the Raeford area.

On Friday, Hoke County Sheriff Peterkin said he still had not finalized the number of machines found, but he said it could be somewhere around 300 or 400. He said the machines were stashed inside 15 full-sized storage units and 8 to 10 smaller portable storage units. He said each of those units was full of machines.

The raid on Thursday evening was a result of a crackdown on video gambling machines that Cumberland County Sheriff Earl "Moose" Butler began in March.

Peterkin said the investigation into a bust during that crackdown led investigators to the storage units in Hoke County. He said he believed a sweepstakes operator being investigated in Cumberland County took some of his machines into storage in Hoke County.

Peterkin said he is not releasing the name of the suspected sweepstakes operator because he is still finalizing charges. He said the charges will be tacked on to charges in Cumberland County.

In this case, the owners of the storage facility likely will not face charges, but Peterkin said no one should help store sweepstakes machines because it could lead to charges of possessing illegal paraphernalia.

"Games that they're not supposed to have, whether they're plugged in or not, they should not be in these storage facilities," Peterkin explained. "So anyone who is listening that has this type of business needs to know that this is something they don't want to entertain."

Peterkin said he has heard stories of people losing thousands of dollars gambling on the machines. He said many people who have lost a lot of money have come to the sheriff's office to report a sweepstakes business for shady practices.

He also said the sweepstakes parlors attract crime because there is so much money involved.

"You got a criminal element also that goes out and robs these places," Peterkin said. "We've had people killed, shot -- daylight or night. It creates problems for your community."

Brandon Herring

Brandon is a North Carolina native and UNC alum who lives in Fayetteville, and covers Cumberland County and the Sandhills. Returning to North Carolina to work as a journalist is a dream come true for Brandon. More>>

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