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Update as of 6:00 pm on 5/29/15

Bladen County District Attorney Jon David and Sheriff Jim McVicker along with their team held a press conference today at 4 pm in reference to the sweepstakes raid that happened earlier today. Together they announced the details of the arrests of multiple people in connection with video sweepstakes gaming here in Bladen County.

According to the team after months of comprehensive investigation by the District Attorney’s office, the Bladen County Sheriff’s Department and partnering with other law enforcement outside the county, three different sweepstakes locations involved were shut down, and eight people were arrested today.

The owners of the establishments and the operators were all arrested. David said, “Video sweepstakes has been determined to be illegal. The legislation has passed a very strong statute outlawing this activity to eliminate any confusion. This activity is illegal in North Carolina.”

The principle businesses involved were Aladdin Sweepstakes in Dublin and The Lucky Spot located just outside of Tar Heel. The operator in Tar Heel has only been charged with a misdemeanor due to operating less than five illegal machines.

David explained, in North Carolina video games operating software that is in violation of the law is considered illegal. If an establishment is operating five or more machines that can be a felony offense. The operators at Aladdin Sweepstakes have all been charged with a felony offense because they were operating five our more machines.

The owners of the Aladdin Sweepstakes, Jeffery Scott Smith and Holly Ward Smith of Dublin were also charged with additional felony charges due to certain unlawful game promotions. Jeffery S. Smith was placed under a total of $50,000 secure bond. Holly W. Smith was placed under a total of a $10,000 secured bond. Jeffery Smith had also been indited on similar charges last year in Columbus County.

The operators arrested were Jeffery Allen Gurganious of Elizabethtown, Brittany Joan Meshaw of Dublin, Sonya Lenore Silvas of Bladenboro, and all were placed under a $2,500 secured bond. The owners and the operators have all since posted bail today.

Sheriff Jim McVicker said, “I just came into office December 1st and I have received numerous complaints about several location operating illegal sweepstakes.” McVicker reported ministers in the area contacted him, concerned because they were supporting neglected families due to gambling addiction.

“Let me be very clear about something, in Bladen County the last bet has been placed and the game is over,” David said.

The felony charges will be pending in district court until they are indicted by a grand jury. June 1st will be the first appearance in front of judge for those charged today, then on July 8th will be the second court date for the misdemeanor charges.[divider]

Aladdin Sweepstakes raided in Dublin

Major Larry Guyton of the Bladen County Sheriff’s Department confirmed a raid Friday morning at two locations of the Aladdin Sweepstakes in Dublin.

Major Guyton said Bladen deputies arrived about 10 a.m. and exercised search warrants. All equipment has been seized and some employees have been arrested.

According to Guyton, the owners, Mr. and Mrs. Jeffrey Smith are expected to “turn” themselves in this afternoon.

Machines are being removed, a job that will likely take most of the day Friday, according to Maj. Guyton.

More information as it is received.

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