Three arrests were made when two video sweepstakes businesses in Wadesboro were raided by the Anson County Sheriff’s Department on Thursday morning.
Tim’s Winners Sweepstakes and J&K Sweepstakes were both raided at about 11 a.m. Although the two businesses both had business licenses, they were operating illegally, according to Sheriff Tommy Allen. The sheriff criticized the town for providing the licenses and may look into who is signing the permits.
At J&K Sweepstakes, deputies arrested Amanda Kessler, 34, of McColl, S.C. She was charged with four counts of operating electronic sweepstakes games. At Tim’s Winners Sweepstakes, deputies arrested Ronnie Douglas Burr, 68, and Timothy Robert Burr, 44, both of Wadesboro. Both were charged with two counts each of operating electronic sweepstakes games. All three suspects were released on a $5,000 bond each and will appear in court on June 12.
Ronnie Burr signed the business license for Tim’s Winners Sweepstakes, located at 1224 E. Caswell St., on May 19. Grace Outlaw signed the business license for J&K Sweepstakes, located on 1242 E. Caswell St., on May 14. As soon as the businesses opened, officers went undercover in the businesses as part of the investigation before the raid, Allen said.
Officers found an undisclosed amount of money and a handgun during the raid. Over sixty video computer terminals were seized and loaded into a U-Haul immediately after the raid.
The sweepstakes business is a complicated issue. In December of 2012, the Supreme Court upheld a North Carolina law banning sweepstakes parlors. In April, the Town Council of Wadesboro voted to allow sweepstakes businesses to apply for a business license, as the council determined that it was up to the business owner to be responsible for their business’ legality.
Allen said he does not understand the town’s decision. “I really don’t understand their thinking when the law is very clear,” he said in a release. “The N.C. legislature passed laws outlawing sweepstakes game. The N.C. Supreme Court unanimously upheld this law last year. If they want to keep issuing these business permits to illegal operations I’ll keep enforcing the law and I’ll keep shutting them down if no one else will. We may even look at whose [sic] signing these permits for the town. As far as I’m concerned they may be contributing and enabling an ongoing criminal enterprise.”
Allen has stated that it is officers’ duty to shut down the businesses. “The facts are simple: North Carolina made a law saying sweepstakes are illegal,” he said after the raid. “It’s been all the way up to the Supreme Court over the last several years, and they said it’s up to the states to uphold the law.” The Sheriff’s Office was assisted by the Lilesville Police Department and the U.S. Marshals Service during the raid.
Even as deputies closed those two sweepstakes, a third sweepstakes business was unloading equipment in town and preparing to open. “I’ve not seen a permit for this business but we stopped by and told them what we were doing and they could open at their own peril,” Allen said. “So we’ll see what happens.”