WJTV News Channel 12 - 30 search warrants served for sweepstakes machines

30 search warrants served for sweepstakes machines

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GREENVILLE, N.C. - Law enforcement officers in Pitt County serve 30 search warrants to convenience stores operating sweepstake machines. At 9:00 am officers from various departments executed the operation "Operation Pot of Gold". They seized 95 sweepstake machines and over $33,000.

It started at the City Gas store on North Greene Street. Sheriff Neil Elks and his team executed a warrant to seize their sweepstakes machines.
At the same time teams from all across the county were doing the same. In total, the Pitt County Sheriff's Office and Greenville Police Department targeted 29 stores.

Chief Hassan Aden, a major player in the operation says this will reduce the amount of crime in Pitt County. He says criminals target these businesses because of the amount of cash they carry.

Since last year, officers monitored complaints and even went under cover. They say they did so to cover their bases. So if they didn't find anything on Tuesday, they'd still have enough to file charges.

“We gave them a warning, told them that if they were using that particular type of machine with that software we're going to enforce it.,” District Attorney Kimberly Robb said. 

The business is quite lucrative. Sheriff Elks says the owner of City Gas pulled out $2,000 and said he made that in one night.

Police haven't arrested anyone in connection to this operation yet, but says arrests are pending. At this time officers are holding onto the machines and cash they collected to later prosecute the owners in court.

Not all sweepstake machines are illegal. Robb says if the software includes a pre-reveal feature, then they are legal.

Last year, the state Supreme Court upheld a North Carolina law banning sweepstakes machines. However, some of the places where people play these computer games are still open for business. Since then, local law enforcement across the state has started shutting down parlors.

Sweepstakes owners have been charged with violating the law, but some have been acquitted of criminal charges in the past year. Some owners have turned to judges, asking them to issue orders preventing law enforcement officers from closing down sweepstakes stores.

Attorney General Roy Cooper says sweepstakes cafes are illegal, but law enforcement is going to have to be persistent with offenders. Cooper also says the industry might not completely go away, because they're trying to get around the law.

To View A Map of the Stores Targeted, Click here----> 
Operation Pot of Gold 
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