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Sheriff says internal issues have slowed enforcement of sweepstakes ban

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — The New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office says it’s cracking down on sweepstakes parlors, but a bust today marked just the fourth time deputies have shut down one of the illegal gambling halls this year.

Deputies confiscated 50 computers from Capital One Reward Zone on Market Street today. The Sheriff’s Office hopes this raid sends a message to other sweepstakes operators.

“You can’t enforce everything every day, but you can enforce something every day, and today was their day,” Sheriff’s Office spokesman Cpl. Jason Augst said.

Deputies closed the doors on Capital One Reward Zone Tuesday afternoon. This comes months after the state made it illegal for these kinds of operations.

“We are going to be aggressively enforcing this violation of the law,” Sheriff Ed McMahon said.

Since January, deputies have raided four parlors after multiple warnings to pack-up.

“They’ve chosen to disregard the warnings, and now we have to take our valuable time and resources and effort to go back in and shut them down,” McMahon said. “It is frustrating.”

But deputies have only shut down a handful of the businesses. Sheriff McMahon says internal matters in his office and other criminal cases have taken precedent over this problem, but he is adamant about putting a stop to all owners breaking the law.

“It’s just a matter of getting the resources, getting the manpower together to come and shut you down,” McMahon said.

This particular sweepstakes opened two months ago. The parlor’s attorney said the program used on these computers were carefully designed and did not violate the law.

“I think that had a full examination been done of the software and how it operates, the officers would have been able to determine that,” attorney Tommy Hicks said.

Investigators say both of the owners were from out of state and have not yet been cited. Deputies however did cite the manager on duty and an employee.

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