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Sheriff cracking down on video gaming sites

Video gaming machines and establishments could soon become a thing of the past in Davie County.

Sheriff J.D. Hartman earlier this month sent a letter to all known video gaming/sweepstakes operations saying that after Nov. 30, people operating such machines may be arrested and the machines confiscated.

Hartman has long maintained that the machines are illegal, and even has had people come to his office claiming they were owed money by one of these establishments. He informed them they were participating in something illegal.

The change in enforcement comes from a unanimous ruling by the N.C. Court of Appeals. They wrote, in part:

“We need not reach the state’s argument that the sweepstakes are also illegal independent of the video sweepstakes statute because they violate the separate ban on gambling operations.” That case was based on whether the games were ones of chance or skill, and the Court of Appeals ruled that it didn’t matter, the games are a violation of N.C. General Statute 14-292.

Hartman said he contacted District Attorney Garry Frank before sending the letters to gaming establishments, and his approval mean that prosecution of those who operate or work at such establishments is likely.

“The sheriff’s office will begin investigating these types of activities/crimes again on or after Nov. 30,” the sheriff wrote. “These investigations may lead to the arrest of you and/or your employees and seizure of property along with fines and forfeitures. We will be using all means at our disposal to investigate, prosecute and end the operations of illegal sweepstakes/video gaming locations in Davie County and its political subdivisions.”

He said the actions will also include locations that have only one or two machines such as a store or gas station.

“You may choose to stop these activities on your own and remove the devices at this time without interference from my office,” he concluded.