Three Cited in Internet Sweepstakes Cafe Raids
Three people were charged after a raid was conducted at two Internet sweepstakes cafes in Richland and Lexington counties.
Three people have been cited for gambling after state and local law enforcement raided two Internet sweepstakes cafes in Richland and Lexington counties.
Richland County Sheriff's Deputy Curtis Wilson said three people at Cafe 21 in Northeast Columbia were given a "courtesy summons" after State Law Enforcement Division agents and the sheriff's department raided the facility Wednesday afternoon.
During the raid, authorities seized 20 computers, which had 45 to 46 traditional poker games on them, SLED spokeswoman Kathryn Richardson said.
Wilson said those charged were: Cafe 21 owner Norman Brent Ferrell, 41, of Blythewood; manger Misha Zakia Jenkins, 35, of Columbia; and a customer, Fran Ellen Washington, 37, of Eastover.
The courtesy summons is "like getting a speeding ticket," he said.
The three will have to go to magistrate court where a judge will determine if they have to pay a fine, time in prison or both. The charge is a misdemeanor.
In Lexington County, SLED agents and deputies raided Shatter's Internet on St. Andrews Road.
Eighteen stations with keno games were seized from Shatter's, Richardson said.
During a raid last week in Irmo, SLED agents also confiscated a total of seven sweepstakes machines from the Pitt Stop (Shell gas station) and SKS Mart (Exxon gas station) on Lake Murray Boulevard.
No arrests have been made in Lexington County.
The legality of the machines have been discussed locally and statewide.
Both SLED and local law enforcement as well as the S.C. Attorney General say the machines are illegal.
Customers of the cafes would purchase Internet time or phone cards. After purchase, customers can play different games like poker or keno for prizes.
Local governments, including Irmo Town Council, have worked to address the machines.
On Thursday, the doors to both Cafe 21 and Shatter's were locked.
From the window, you could see the empty desks where the machines and computers were.
Richardson said SLED will continue to work with local and state authorities in investigating sweepstakes cafes.