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Gaming machines, money seized from ‘fish arcade’ business

SALISBURY — The Rowan County Sheriff’s Office seized $758,000, arrested a security guard and said arrests are pending against managers and other personnel employed by a business known as Gold Fish, LLC.

The business operates establishments commonly called “fish arcades” — named because of the animals depicted — and has been the target of an investigation that started in 2019. The sheriff’s office told fish arcade businesses across the county in January 2020 to shut down or face arrest or seizure of equipment and profits from the business, which local law enforcement officers consider illegal.

Whether the games require skill or chance is a central question in whether operations are legal. The sheriff’s office says winners are “chosen randomly by chance” and that the operations are hubs for crimes such as robberies and drug trafficking.

In early 2020, Gold Fish, LLC, attempted to stop the sheriff’s office by filing an injunction in court, but the filing hasn’t been heard.

Federal and local law enforcement officers on Monday executed search warrants at three businesses in Salisbury and two residences in Concord with help from the Cabarrus County Sheriff’s Office.

Seized from the three businesses were 175 gaming machines considered slot machines by North Carolina law and $38,000, a news release stated. There were cabinet-style gaming machines, “fish tables” and table models operated with a mouse.

Law enforcement officers found $728,000 and “numerous documents pertaining to operations of gaming businesses” at the Concord residences.

“At this time, the investigation would show that the gambling establishments being operated under the umbrella of Gold Fish, LLC, have committed numerous violations of state law, including having armed and unlicensed security guards working as security at the businesses, possessing slot machines, gambling, paying cash for credits earned, allowing the betting of more than eight credits and possessing five or more slot machines,” a news release stated.

The news release stated an unlicensed security guard was charged and arrests are pending for managers, cashiers and other security personnel employed by Gold Fish, LLC. The sheriff’s office didn’t release names of those facing charges or their crimes. Money seized has been turned over to federal law enforcement officials, a news release stated.

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