The Currituck County Sheriffs Office says Moyock locals tipped them off that the Border Station on the Virginia/North Carolina line was still operating internet sweepstakes machines.
The parking lot was always packed with cars still there until three or four in the morning, according to deputies.
“After hours, when the main doors closed, they would allow them through a back door,” says Currituck County deputy Matthew Beicker.
After several undercover operations, they served a search warrant just after 9:00 a.m. Tuesday morning.
“They would play a slot machine-type video game. They could wager as many points as they wanted for each spin. The more you wager, the more you could possibly win,” Beicker says.
Strict laws outlawing that type of gambling went into effect earlier this year.
Deputies even sent out cease and desist letters on January 2nd warning sweepstakes owners that the new law would be fully enforced.
And they say everyone complied except for Border Station, leading to the raid where deputies seized 25 sweepstakes machines.
Kimberly Phlanzer happened to be inside at the time, making a stop on her way to the Outer Banks.
“They came in, said you need to vacate this area. Leave your receipts and vacate, which we all did. The door was shut. I don’t know what happened after that,” she says.
Currituck County deputies say charges are now pending against Border Station’s owner, Clarence Russell Hastings, for violating the new sweepstakes law, hoping it’s a message to other businesses that might want to try their luck too.
“We’ve explained to them. We have explained it to them in person, not just Border Station, all the others. There’s a lot of money to be made and they don’t want to miss out on it,” Beicker says.
Border Station’s owner, Clarence Russell Hastings, has not yet been formally arrested.
However, deputies say he could be facing a possible felony charge since his business has been under investigation for offering a video poker in the past.