North Carolina Authorities Continue Crackdown on Fish Table Games

Posted on: April 3, 2020, 07:31h. 

Last updated on: April 3, 2020, 08:45h.

North Carolina deputies raided a Salisbury arcade this week that was allegedly a front for an illegal casino, and authorities seized various gaming equipment from the operation. In 2018, the same property reportedly was the scene of a fatal shooting.

Rowan County Sheriff Kevin Auten leads the agency which raided an alleged illegal casino this week in North Carolina. (Image: WBTV)

Deputies searched the FishZilla Arcade on Wednesday and discovered 37 gaming terminals, four fish tables with 38 terminals, and various illicit games, WSOC said.

Police investigated the business for two months before the court-ordered raid. The venue allegedly allowed customers to bet credits in violation of state law and to illegally pay cash for winnings.

“Fish games” are large scale, table-mounted video games that pay cash rewards to winning players.

Players use a joystick to shoot at characters, with each fish having different odds. Players receive points for every fish caught. 
The Rowan County Sheriff’s Office said it identified the operators of the illegal casino. Charges are likely following review by the county’s district attorney’s office.

During the raid, authorities seized servers, computer processors, printers, and a money counter — each of which was used in the gaming operation, police said. The computers used “Aloha,” “8Fuse,” and “Gateway” software, the Independent Tribune reported.

The arcade was closed following the search. These types of fish arcades in North Carolina have been linked to serious crime and have led to complaints from residents, the Salisbury Post reported.

In 2018, the site of the arcade was the scene of the fatal shooting of an Albemarle barber. James Christopher Davis, 45, was shot at the business and later died, the Post reported.

Dedric Michelle Mason, 43, was charged with second-degree murder in connection with the case. The outcome of that charge was not immediately available.

Starting in January, the Rowan County Sheriff’s Office informed operators of alleged casinos authorities would enforce relevant state law on illegal gambling, such as fish games. Authorities delivered documents to likely venues and issued statements to the region’s media, which in part told operators to close operations before Jan. 20.

North Carolina Sees Other Recent Fish Game Raids

Recently, North Carolina authorities raided two unrelated illegal casinos in Hertford County. Jamil Marwan Yazaji and Rawad Sabra, both of Jacksonville, Florida, were arrested after a search of The Best, a casino located in Ahoskie, Hertford County Sheriff Dexter Hayes said last week, according to the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald.

Five fish tables were seized by the sheriff’s office after the Ahoskie raid. Authorities also seized $90,232 and two pistols. One of the weapons was reported stolen from Jacksonville, the newspaper report adds.

The two men were charged with a single count of illegal gambling, operating five or more gaming tables, and possession of five or more gaming tables, the news report said. Yazaji was also charged with possession of a stolen firearm.

Also, authorities raided The Come Up, a casino in Winton. The sheriff’s office seized 10 fish tables, eight upright gaming tables, seven standard gaming tables, and $24,503.37 from that property, Hayes said. Criminal charges are possible.

In another unrelated case, North Carolina police raided an illegal gaming operation last July in Trinity where 25 gambling machines were seized. Inside, they found illegal video slot machines and fish game tables.

Since last year, the Tar Heel State has seen many raids of illegal casinos where illegal gaming machines were seized. The raids often led to arrests.

Legislative Debate Over Fish Tables

North Carolina has seen a debate whether fish tables are games of chance or games of skill. Arcade owners contend fish tables are legal because they are based on skill, but law enforcement agencies disagree.