Machines, cash seized from sweepstakes business

lruebens@charlotteobserver.comDecember 28, 2013 

Charlotte-Mecklenburg police detectives seized about 40 gaming machines and more than $4,400 in cash Friday from a sweepstakes business on Woodlawn Road, authorities said Saturday.

The parlor is one of many that have been shut down in Charlotte this month: There was a Dec. 1 deadline for operators to close before facing potential prosecution for operating electronic sweepstakes machines.

Sweepstakes games became popular in North Carolina in 2007, when the General Assembly made video poker illegal. The games feature vivid graphics and often resemble slot machines or card games.

To keep the business model legal, customers bought time on a computer to play the games instead of putting money in a machine. But the state legislature made the operation of the machines illegal in 2010, and after years of appeals by software companies, the N.C. Supreme Court upheld that law in late 2012.

An informal survey by the Observer the first week of December showed most in the area have closed their doors.

Police said in a release that detectives served a search warrant for the parlor at 250 E. Woodlawn Road on Friday. They launched an investigation after the business did not comply with a written notice from the Mecklenburg County District Attorney about the operation of electronic sweepstakes machines.

The business broke the state law that bans the electronic machines, police said in a release but did not identify the name of the business.

In addition to the gaming machines and cash, detectives also seized marijuana and a gun, the release said.

They also arrested two parlor employees, Achille Eddie Adair, 32, of Charlotte, and Jeremiah Scott Monroe, 31, of Bessemer City.

The two were charged with narcotics possession, according to police. Adair was also charged with felony financial card fraud, the Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Office website shows.

Additional charges are possible, police said, and the investigation is ongoing.

Less than a week ago, CMPD detectives shut down J&W Business Center, a sweepstakes parlor on Westinghouse Boulevard. While serving a search warrant, detectives seized 78 electronic sweepstakes gaming machines and more than $3,500 in cash.

Ruebens: 704-358-5294; Twitter: @lruebens

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