(NOTE: This article was corrected on Saturday, July 25. The Wizard’s Guild in Whittier was erroneously named in the first version of this article. The business closed was the Lucky Shack which is located adjacent to the Wizard’s Guild. The One Feather regrets and apologizes for the error.)
By SCOTT MCKIE B.P.
ONE FEATHER STAFF
BRYSON CITY – Two illegal gaming operations in Whittier and one in Bryson City were shut down as Swain County law enforcement officers conducted raids on Wednesday, July 15. According to Swain County Sherriff Curtis Cochran, 90 gambling machines and “several thousands of dollars” were seized in the raids on the three establishments which remain closed.
As of press time, no one has been charged in this matter Sheriff Cochran related. The three businesses involved are the Teddy Bear Lounge and Lucky Shack in Whittier and the 777 Arcade in Bryson City.
“We had an undercover operation going on with surveillance within each one of these businesses since March,” Sheriff Cochran said. “We sent our undercovers in at least three times, maybe four times, and we captured on video where they (businesses) were paying out in cash.”
He said the gambling machines seized included such games as video poker, video blackjack, Keno and others. “All of these were very old machines.”
Sheriff Cochran said they will turn over their evidence to the District Attorney’s Office. “We’ve had the District Attorney’s Office involved in this, and they’re on board with it.”
He said the Swain County Sheriff’s Office partnered with other law enforcement in this operation. “We used undercover agents from another county for the first couple of surveillances, and then we used our own for at least one.”
Sheriff Cochran declined to name the other agency involved at this time, but would say it was “a neighboring county”.
North Carolina officially banned such gambling operations when the N.C. Supreme Court unanimously upheld a state law banning video sweepstakes in a decision issued Dec. 14, 2012. That decision reversed a State Court of Appeals decision earlier that ruled the ban unconstitutional.