Biz awaiting word on video gaming enforcement


By Reggie Ponder
Staff Writer

Monday, February 4, 2019

Area operators of video gaming machines — some similar to what used to be known as video poker machines — say they are awaiting word from local authorities about the legality of the devices before making any move to shut them down.

District Attorney Andrew Womble held a meeting Jan. 17 for area law enforcement officials to discuss enforcement related to video gaming. Womble has declined to comment on what was discussed at the meeting or on what kind of enforcement actions, if any, might be forthcoming.

Larry Lamb owns Lamb’s Marina in Camden, where he leases space to Outer Banks Amusements, operators of a game room  that features two Gift Surplus machines and two Ocean Monster machines. Lamb said he closed the video gaming room for a while but reopened it last summer when he noticed that numerous businesses in Elizabeth City and the surrounding area had started operating games again.

“We were closed for about a year,” Lamb said. “And one reason we opened up was that other people were opening up.”

Lamb said he recently read an article in The Daily Advance that area law enforcement officials were going to meet to discuss enforcement action against video poker games. He said he’s waiting to hear from law enforcement about what they’re going to do before he discontinues the games.

Lamb said he did speak to a Camden deputy, who told him the Camden Sheriff’s Office had not been able to send a representative to Womble’s meeting on video gaming.

A Superior Court judge has issued an injunction staying any kind of enforcement action against the Gift Surplus game, according to Lamb.

“I saw that online,” Lamb said. “Anybody can go online and look it up.”

He said he also saw online that Guilford County had been pursuing enforcement against the “fish game,” a popular name for the Ocean Monster machine Outer Banks Amusements operates at its game room at Lamb’s Marina. But he also noted that other counties in the state apparently are not taking any kind of action against the game.

“That fish game has never been tested in court,” Lamb said.

Camden County Sheriff Kevin Jones said last week he was awaiting additional information from the District Attorney’s Office regarding video gaming enforcement.