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Police launch raid on 2nd sweepstakes parlor

The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department had promised that a Tuesday raid on a sweepstakes business in southwest Charlotte wouldn’t be its last action against establishments alleged to be violating state gambling laws.

And sure enough, police conducted another raid Wednesday afternoon.

Wednesday’s action came at Queens Gold Sweepstakes, in the 9100 block of South Tryon Street. That is not far from LPM Sweepstakes, the Old Pineville Road establishment that was raided Tuesday.

As was the case with Tuesday’s action, police say they moved against Queens Gold Sweepstakes after receiving information about alleged illegal slot machines and sweepstakes activity there. Detectives said they found 24 electronic and slot machines that were violating North Carolina law.

According to police, game-players had to deposit money in order to play the machines, which featured games like poker, bingo, and keno.

Police seized the machines at Queens Gold Sweepstakes, along with more than $1,500 in cash. An employee was cited for violating state law.

Tuesday’s raid, conducted by CMPD and the Alcohol Beverage Control Unit, resulted in the seizure of 26 electronic machines and cash at LPM Sweepstakes.

That 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.

Voorhees said 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.

“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 legally. 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.

Voorhees said Wednesday that’s good news for authorities in Mecklenburg County, where IIT sweepstakes games have proliferated.

IIT is owned by an Oklahoma couple who are among 57 people indicted in Florida in connection with a chain of sweepstakes cafes affiliated with Allied Veterans of the World. The group is accused of giving veterans only 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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