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Charlotte police seize 26 alleged gambling machines

Charlotte-Mecklenburg police and detectives from the Alcohol Beverage Control Unit seized 26 electronic machines and cited a sweepstakes parlor employee during a raid Tuesday in southwest Charlotte.

Police say they searched LPM Sweepstakes, in the 4700 block of Old Pineville Road, after receiving tips about alleged illegal slot machines and sweepstakes activity at the business.

The raid was the first made by CMPD since the North Carolina law banning sweepstakes software went into effect in January, special investigations Capt. Coerte Voorhees said.

But it won’t be the last – police are continuing to investigate some 200 sweepstakes parlors in the Mecklenburg area and plan to crack down on businesses that have not adjusted their software to stay within the law, Vorhees said.

"We've asked for lawful voluntary compliance from all the facilities and have been hoping for that,” the captain said.

After the law was enacted, Charlotte-Mecklenburg police sent out letters to sweepstakes businesses asking them to update their software and seek consultation about what is still considered legal.

In its notice to sweepstakes operators, CMPD said it was aware of companies that have made upgrades to machines they believe will allow them to operate. For example, one of the software changes would tell a player whether they’ve won right away, before the game is visually displayed on the screen.

The machines seized Tuesday contained poker, bingo, keno and other video games in which players deposited money in order to play.

In the meantime, a company providing software for sweepstakes gaming parlors has announced plans to leave North Carolina, because it's getting too hard to do business in the state.

International Internet Technologies sent the letter last week to North Carolina law enforcement agencies saying it was ceasing operations immediately.

Vorhees said Wednesday that’s good news for authorities in Mecklenburg County, where IIT sweepstakes games have been prolific.

IIT is owned by an Oklahoma couple who are among 57 people indicted in Florida in relation to a chain of sweepstakes cafes affiliated with Allied Veterans of the World, which is accused of only giving veterans about 2 percent of the $300 million in charity money raised.

Observer staff writer Steve Lyttle and the Associated Press contributed

Steele: 704-358-5067 on Twitter: @steelecs
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