Cumberland Co. officials crack down on gaming - WNCN: News, Weather

Cumberland Co. officials crack down on gaming

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Sheriff 'Moose' Butler Sheriff 'Moose' Butler
HOPE MILLS, N.C. -

Law enforcement officials in Fayetteville on Tuesday announced that they are cracking down in gaming activities in the Cumberland County.

"I want to emphasize [these activities] are illegal and they will not be permitted to continue," said Sheriff Earl "Moose" Butler. "We have looked at the law and we are putting a stop to these illegal operations.

"We will do what we can to put an end to this criminal activity."

Officials said enforcement will be "immediate and effective." Several video sweepstakes operations were raided, and three of those businesses were shut down by late Tuesday.

Butler said his office has done a lot of work to understand the state law about electronic sweepstakes machines. A state Supreme Court decision recently upheld a ban on the machines, and he says he warned this business and others that they needed to stop what he believes is illegal activity.

"We wanted to let them know we were here and we meant business," Butler said.

He says when operators didn't change anything, the sheriff's office planned this raid. Deputies spent hours at one Little Vegas Sweepstakes City location confiscating machines. In addition to two other Little Vegas locations, the sheriff's office has issued five other search warrants to stop video sweepstakes elsewhere.

Hope Mills Police Chief  Joel Acciardo, who helped with this raid, said the sweepstakes are a growing problem.

"If somebody can't turn to off-switch on and keeps coming and spending their rent money or something of that nature, it's going to cause problems," he said. "That's probably why it's still deemed illegal."

The owners of the raided businesses are now charged with felonies, and they'll have to defend themselves in court.  The sheriff says he's not finished with his crackdown throughout Cumberland County.

"They better be closed down or make an effort because we're going to be because this is not a do one time and stop," he said. "It's going to be ongoing."

Butler says anyone caught playing a video sweepstakes game will also be charged with a crime. The first offense is a ticket for a misdemeanor. Further violations are felonies.

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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