LUMBERTON — Lumberton police today seized dozens of illegal video gaming machines in 14 simultaneous raids, according to Maj. Tommy Barnes.
Forty-eight machines and $10,906 were seized in the five and a half hours officers spent visiting convenience stores around town, Barnes said.
“I know at two different locations we got $5,000,” he said. The money will go to the public school system.
The raids were the culmination of about eight weeks of undercover work by the Vice Division, Barnes said.
“They actually went in and played these machines,” he said.
No arrests were made on Monday.
The Hoke and Scotland County Joint Gaming Task Force has said it will begin shutting down sweepstakes businesses in those counties on July 1.
Robeson County District Attorney Johnson Britt said the process is long from over. Lumberton police will present their findings and what they saw today in court.
Nine Sun Do locations were targeted in the raids. They are located at 1811 E. Fifth St., 1404 Carthage Road, 6697 Elizabethtown Road, 5117 Fayetteville Road, 3565 Roberts Ave., 9020 U.S. 74, 2935 E. Fifth St., 730 S. Roberts Ave. and 1145 N. Roberts Ave.
Traveller’s BP at 1906 Carthage Road, Adams Discount Cigarettes at 501 W. Second St., Dobbs Place at 2806 W. Fifth S.t, Dobbs Mobile at 3001 W. Fifth St. and an unidentified store at 511 W. Second St. were also raided.
A citywide moratorium on sweepstakes cafes, in effect since 2010, expires on June 10. In anticipation, the Lumberton City Council at its May 12 meeting adopted a zoning ordinance that limits the capacity, location and hours of sweepstakes cafes looking to open up in Lumberton. Under the ordinance, conditional-use permits for sweepstakes cafes will not be issued until the General Assembly deems them legal.
Robeson County law enforcement have been cracking down on sweepstakes cafes since the state Supreme Court in December 2012 upheld a statute banning electronic gaming machines and Britt called for enforcement of the ruling.
Gaming companies have tried to put out new machines they say circumvent the law.
Britt has said newer machines that show a player’s winnings before the game begins — supposedly making the prize independent of the game — still aren’t in accordance with the statute and has asked City Council and law enforcement to enforce the ban accordingly.
Sarah Willets works for Civitas Media as a staff writer for The Robesonian. Reach her at 910-272-6127.