Law enforcement officials in North Carolina carried out raids on six alleged illegal gambling operations across Randolph County last week.
According to the Randolph County Sheriff’s Office, local, state, and federal officials took part in the two-day operation. Members of the US Homeland Security Investigations, Liberty Police Department, Randleman Police Department, and the North Carolina Department of Public Safety’s Alcohol Law Enforcement Division were also involved.
agents found illegal gambling machine hard drives and gaming boards
Agents found illegal gambling machine hard drives and gaming boards during the raids on Wednesday and Thursday, along with multiple firearms, drugs, and cash.
While investigations are continuing, felony criminal charges are expected. The owners of the businesses claim that they were running skill games and not gambling games.
Talking about the operations of the gambling facilities, Randolph County Sheriff Gregory Seabolt said: “Customers were given cash payouts for credits won on the machines, and businesses were conducting or promoting sweepstakes through entertainment displays, which is illegal in North Carolina.”
He went on to speak about how these types of gambling operations often lead to more crime in an area, such as larcenies and assaults. The raids are a part of efforts by the sheriff to protect local citizens from illegal activity and crime.
A number of similar busts have taken place in North Carolina in the past year, with three raids in February yielding different types of gaming machines and $210,000 in cash. Two businesses were subject to raids in December 2019, leading to the discovery of illegal gaming equipment.
Skill machines debate
“Skill machines” are found up and down the east coast and have been a controversial topic in recent years. Many people do not believe that skill machines are the same as slot machines. The latter automatically shows a winning payline and pays out credits, while the former requires players to tap a winning combination.
North Carolina has gambling laws in place to protect the public.”
Sheriff Seabolt disagrees with claims that skill machines are not a form of illegal gambling. He said: “North Carolina has gambling laws in place to protect the public. The concept for these illegal gaming establishments is based entirely on persons losing more money than they win.”
There is an ongoing battle in Pennsylvania over skill machines, with the dozen commercial casinos in the region claiming that they are illegal. Convenience store, restaurant, and bar owners argue that these machines are helping to save their businesses in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Lawmakers in Virginia made the decision to temporarily legalize skill machines as a result of the pandemic, but this will come to an end on July 1, 2021.