Davidson County authorities crack down on sweepstakes

DAVIDSON COUNTY, NC (WGHP) – After closing 36 sweepstakes businesses in Davidson County, leaders are starting to talk about how they can keep them closed.

Davidson County Executive Casey Smith told FOX 8 that staff are having conversations about how changes to zoning laws could help keep contest businesses closed.

County commissioners have yet to discuss the matter, but may do so when their board retreats in March.

Other towns in Davidson County like Thomasville have a business moratorium.

Davidson County Sheriff Richie Simmons believes closing these businesses in violation of North Carolina’s general statutes keeps the community safe.

“Our calls for patrol in some of these areas have gone down,” Simmons said.

MEPs noted a decrease in suspicious activity in these areas.

“That’s what we want. That’s why we did it in the first place,” Simmons said.

Keeping them closed was a challenge.

Just after the months-long sting ended in late November 2021, a handful of homeowners filed a lawsuit in Davidson County Superior Court to try to reopen.

A judge dismissed the case.

Two other businesses told MPs they would reopen. Sheriff Simmons says these businesses were told that if they opened and violated general statutes, deputies would come back and serve a warrant.

Investigators say the owner of 52 Office Express tried to reopen and was charged with 55 different counts related to illegal gambling.

A recent North Carolina Supreme Court decision upheld electronic gaming machines as illegal, a decision that Simmons believes will help keep such venues closed.

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