Former Lucky Duck Cafe manager charged, cashier arrest pending

Published 3:15 pm Tuesday, May 19, 2020

By Shavonne Potts

SALISBURY — The Rowan County Sheriff’s Office has charged the manager and cashier of a now-closed “fish arcade” business after an undercover investigation determined the business was the site of an illegal video-based gambling operation.

On March 18, detectives raided the Lucky Duck Cafe, 3402 South Main St., and seized computers, transaction records and other items. The manager and cashier were at the business during the raid as well as several customers who were actively gambling, according to the sheriff’s office.

The manager — Justin Jonathan Robinson, 30, of Statesville — was charged Monday with operating/possessing a slot machine and operating a video gaming machine. Robinson surrendered and was released under a written promise to appear in court.

The cashier — Deaizha Keshira Alexandria Phillips, 21, of Landis — was charged with gambling, operating a video gaming machine and operating/possessing a slot machine. Warrants have been issued for Phillips’ arrest. As of Tuesday, she has not been arrested.

According to a sheriff’s office statement, the undercover operation took place Feb. 21 at the business that was operating under the guise of an arcade. The businesses are known as “fish arcades” for the type of fish games played. The sheriff’s office said its undercover investigation and raid showed that the arcade was a video-based gambling operation, with the machines allowing the betting of more than eight credits in violation of state law.

Additionally, the business allegedly was paying cash for credits won, another violation of state law.

Investigators were able to bet credits in amounts exceeding state law, and winnings were paid in cash, also in violation of state law.  The investigation showed that the business had approximately 66 gaming terminals, including two “fish tables,” the sheriff’s office said. The casino was using different software, including Horizon, Fortune and Lightning.

The manager indicated that he did not know the identity of the owner of the business. However, the sheriff’s office said its investigation has shown that the business is owned by a Kernersville contractor.

The Lucky Duck Cafe charges come after the Rowan County Sheriff’s Office in January began notifying operators of suspected casinos that it would begin enforcement of the North Carolina law regarding fish arcades. The operators were specifically told that the sheriff’s office intended to vigorously enforce the laws of the State of North Carolina, as they pertained to illegal gambling, which included sweepstakes, fish games and the like.

After businesses were notified, some ceased operation, some remained open and some briefly closed and then reopened.  The Lucky Duck Café was one of the latter.