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Rowan Sheriff’s Office carries out raid at FishZilla arcade in Salisbury

To date, the RCSO has not arrested any customers frequenting the businesses and present during...
To date, the RCSO has not arrested any customers frequenting the businesses and present during the execution of search warrants. This policy is being revisited.(David Whisenant-WBTV)
Published: Aug. 7, 2021 at 10:27 AM EDT
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ROWAN COUNTY, N.C. (WBTV) - On Thursday, the Rowan County Sheriff’s Office (RCSO) executed a search warrant at the FishZilla Arcade, 1812 East Innes Street, Salisbury.

According to a press release, the business, operating under the guise that it was a legal arcade, was in actuality an illegal gambling operation. The business was raided by the RCSO previously on Wednesday, April 1, 2020, for similar illegal activities.

Deputies say the business had 85 playing stations, including table models, stand-ups and “fish tables.” These machines, all slot machines under North Carolina Law, violate state statutes. The devices allowed patrons to bet more than 8 credits per play and the arcade was paying cash for credits earned. Possession of five or more machines makes the charge a felony. The RCSO will seek charges against one manager and two cashiers, who operated the arcade.

The RCSO seized documents related to the gambling operation, monitors, CPU’s, television screens, office equipment, a money counter, and almost $18,500 in cash.

In North Carolina there are only two types of legal gambling, the North Carolina State Lottery and those occurring on Indian Lands. All other gambling is illegal. The RCSO has taken a strong position that these illegal arcades are violating state law and the court decisions are in favor of enforcement of the law. Local jurisdictions in Rowan County have the same authority as the RCSO to enforce the law.

Investigations over the past two years of these businesses and their operators have shown that they are making millions of dollars off these illegal businesses, not paying state or federal income tax and the workers are being paid cash under the table. According to investigators, security firms providing armed security to the businesses are violating state law by the guards not being licensed through the North Carolina Private Protective Services. The businesses have been havens for crimes, including drug trafficking, robbery and illegal possession of firearms. Many of the crimes committed inside and outside the businesses are not being reported to law enforcement, for fear of attention to these illegal businesses. Additionally, many of those in Rowan County are operated by persons outside Rowan County and even from other states.

Deputies say the RCSO has received complaints about the arcade from other tenants at the strip mall about the business, and even from other illegal gambling operators. During the previous search in 2020, the RCSO met with the landlord for the business and warned them about allowing this type business to operate. They were told of possible civil consequences. Nuisance and abatement laws in North Carolina allow for the civil forfeiture of property under certain circumstances.

To date, the RCSO has not arrested any customers frequenting the businesses and present during the execution of search warrants. This policy is being revisited.

Anyone with information about these illegal businesses are encouraged to call their respective jurisdictions.

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