RAEFORD, N.C. (WNCN) – The Hoke County Sheriff’s Office announced on Tuesday that they plan to meet with the county district attorney for guidance on how to shut down all sweepstakes businesses in the county.
Hoke County Sheriff Hubert Peterkin’s announcement comes on the heels of a major investigation into an illegal sweepstakes business inside a Raeford warehouse next to a church, according to a release from the sheriff’s office.
On Sept. 8, the Hoke County Sheriff’s Office executed a search warrant at 10263 Fayetteville Road, which is a 15,000 square foot building owned by South Carolina resident Robert C. Harrison, the sheriff’s office said.
The reason for the search warrant was because an investigation revealed that Harrison had opened a “casino style video sweepstakes business” inside – after authorities told him such a business would not be allowed in the county, according to the release.
The sheriff’s office said there are a variety of reasons why the business is not allowed to operate in the county, including the fact that “it is illegal” and because it is 200 feet away from the Cape Fear Conference B Center, which is “one of the largest churches in Hoke County” and “is comprised of over 30 churches in the district” and is used on a daily or weekly basis for events, services and funerals.
According to the sheriff’s office, Harrison was contacted multiple times by the Hoke County Board of Commissioners who notified him that county ordinance specifically says that a sweepstakes parlor cannot operate less than 1,000 feet away from a religious establishment. Despite the warnings, Harrison opened the business anyway – without applying or obtaining a permit for the parlor, the sheriff’s office said.
Peterkin and the sheriff’s office have since escalated their investigation into Harrison’s business by getting in touch with U.S. Homeland Security, who the sheriff’s office said, “has agreed to assist in any way necessary.”
A felony warrant for Harrison’s arrest has now been issued and placed in the national database, officials said.
Peterkin notified the sheriff of Horry County, South Carolina, where Harrison is believed to live, that deputies there should “apprehend him immediately for [extradition] back to Hoke County.”
Peterkin said in the release that the next step for the sheriff’s office is to find a way to outlaw sweepstakes parlors altogether in the county.
“Due to an increase in video sweepstakes businesses in Hoke County and the lack of respect for the county ordinances, laws and this community, my staff and I will meet with the district attorney for guidance in regards to issuing a cease and desist letter to all active sweepstakes businesses in the county to close immediately. Enough is Enough,” Peterkin said