Sweepstakes cafe customers were turned away from three businesses Friday by police officers who shut down the cafes.
“I don’t think it is fair for police to just come in and tell a business man they have to close down, especially with the way the jobs market is right now,” said customer Johnny Lewis.
Rocky Mount resident Lewis said he enjoys spending time in the cafes, especially Sweepstakes Headquarters at 550 N. Wesleyan Blvd.
“You get a little excitement, maybe win some money,” he said. “I don’t go overboard, but it is something to do.”
Rocky Mount police Community Services Officer Brad Summerlin said police ordered all the customers of Sweepstakes Headquarters, KD Sweepstakes Games at 2129 Lawrence Circle and X-TECH Internet Sweepstakes at 3022 Sunset Ave. to leave, seized the Internet and gaming computers and cited the owners.
David Eugene Lynch, 58, Christopher Lee Bass, 39, and Donald Wayne Boyd, 50, from Sweepstakes Headquarters; David Thomas Davis, 58, and Debra Maddrey, 42, from KD Sweepstakes; and Domonique Worelds, 22, and Parkash Patel, 42, from X-TECH Internet Sweepstakes; were charged with conducting a sweepstakes through the use of an entertaining display and promoting a sweepstakes that is conducted through the use of an entertaining display.
Police also charged Davis with resist, obstruct or delay for allegedly not closing the business immediately when police arrived.
“This was a part of a six-week undercover 0peration named Jack Pot,” Summerlin said. “It is an ongoing investigation, and additional charges may be forthcoming.”
Summerlin said police seized $54,126.95 in cash, 240 computers, 41 stand-up machines, one vehicle, two currency counters, two cash inverters, two I.D. scanners and assorted documents.
No one answered telephone calls made Friday afternoon to several other sweepstakes cafes seeking comment.The owners of the three cafes that were shut down declined to comment about the incident.
“That is just sad,” Wilson resident Regina Franklin said after being told by an officer that KD Sweepstakes was closed. “It is pure, clean enjoyment. There is no alcohol, no fighting. They are clean and quiet and just entertainment.”
Franklin, who works nearby, said she frequented the cafe three-to-four times a week and got to know the staff members. She said she thought an update that added an “instant reveal” button into the program used by the cafes since February brought them into compliance with the state law banning video poker machines.
“They are relaxing, you meet interesting people, the games are fun and it is an opportunity to win some money,” she said. “No one is forcing anyone to play.
“This is just really upsetting.”