Sheriff directs fish arcades to stop operation

Published 12:01 am Wednesday, March 8, 2023

SALISBURY — The Rowan County Sheriff’s Office issued a rebuke of several area businesses commonly referred to as fish arcades over the weekend. 

In a letter with the subject line, “Cease and Desist,” Sheriff Travis Allen calls for all illegal operations in the county to stop immediately, pointing to ongoing litigation regarding the subject. Allen also indicated that his office had consulted with the Rowan County District Attorney’s Office before communicating the message. 

With the new measure, business owners could face a misdemeanor for the first offense, with each subsequent offense carrying a felony penalty. 

“The N.C. Supreme Court recently ruled that electronic sweepstakes machines and similar electronic machines are illegal,” Allen said in the letter. 

The law Allen alluded to in the letter prohibits video-gaming machines, which are machines that require a deposit of coin, token use of credit or debit cards or other methods of payment to activate it. The law targets video game machines that simulate slot machines and other forms of electrical, mechanical, or computer games such as video poker, bingo, craps, keno or lottery.

Also included in the law are video games based on or involving the random or chance matching of different pictures, words, numbers, or symbols, not dependent on the skill or dexterity of the player.

In alignment with the law, a sweepstakes game ran through a kiosk displaying a video game resembling a reel-spinning slot machine, which involved spinning the wheel on the display and nudging virtual reels, regardless of whether skill or chance predominated over the game was a violation of the offense. 

The sheriff’s office offered this warning in the letter:

‘’Failure to cease and desist by the listed date and time below (immediately) will result in ongoing criminal investigations and potential criminal charges for owners and employees,” the letter reads. 

According to the letter, the sheriff’s office has opened criminal investigations involving the arcade establishments and indicated that undercover officers had observed the illegal operation in person, which included playing games and receiving payment. 

In total, 12 businesses were identified by the letter. 

  • Top Dog Sweepstakes, located at 1040 Freeland Drive in Salisbury
  • Ace Arcade, located at 2092 Statesville Blvd. in Salisbury
  • Lucky Duck Arcade, located at 1012 Mooresville Road in Salisbury
  • VIP Elite Gaming Lounge, located at 5365 S. Main St. in Salisbury
  • Gold Mine Games, located at 5625 S. Main St. in Salisbury
  • Fan Zone, located at 3425 NC Hwy. 801 in Woodleaf
  • VIP 3 Arcade, located at 175 NC Hwy. 801 in Woodleaf
  • Fortune Horizon Riversweeps, located at 3381 Old Mocksville Road in Salisbury
  • Charlies Mini Mart, located at 5035 Faith Road in Salisbury
  • R&H Produce, located at 705 N. Main St. in Landis
  • Shark Tank Fish Hut Arcade, located at 2164 Statesville Blvd. in Salisbury 
  • Internet Access, located at 1341 W. Innes St. in Salisbury