Virginia Vape Shops Raided For Alleged Gambling Violations in Continuing Crackdown

Posted on: March 28, 2021, 07:22h. 

Last updated on: March 28, 2021, 07:46h.

Norfolk, Va. police are continuing their crackdown on illegal gambling joints operating in vape shops. In the latest raid, two people were apprehended and cops seized $5,000, computers, and gaming equipment.

Virginia Vape Shop Raids
Richmond, Va.’s Dragon Vapes shown here. The operation’s gaming equipment was seized by local cops in a court-ordered raid. (Image: Richmond PD)

Police searched the property, called Dragon Vapes, on Thursday. The Norfolk police department had been tipped off through multiple complaints about possible illegal activities going on at the vape business.

Jimmie W. Hicks Jr., 55, of Advance, N.C., was charged with possessing illegal gambling devices. Monika S. Torrence, 35, of Norfolk, was charged with being an accessory to gambling activity, police said.

The alleged illegal activity was investigated by the department’s Anti-Crime Division.

Earlier Vape Lounge Raid Leads to Seizures, Arrests

Earlier this month, Norfolk police raided another vape business called Lucky Vape Lounge.

Two people were also arrested in that March 4 raid. Cops seized gaming stations, computers, and about $1,600.

Ann P. Barker, 53, and Major J. Riley III, 64, were each charged with possessing an illegal gambling device. Riley was also charged with carrying a concealed weapon.

In a report on the raid, WAVY, a local TV station, said the lounge had an active Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority (ABC) license. That means the business can operate up to eight games of skill.

But WAVY reported there were more than eight gaming terminals at the lounge.

A review of Norfolk police photos shows a required yellow tax certificate from Virginia ABC was not visible on any of the lounge’s gaming devices, the station said.

In a statement, police said they have requested members of the public to report suspicious activity by calling the Norfolk Crime Line at 1-888-LOCK-U-UP or submitting a tip through the P3Tips mobile app.

Gov. Northam Pushed For Skill Games Ban

As these raids took place, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) worked to ban games of skill statewide. They resemble slot machines and sometimes are confused with games of chance.

Northam amended a gaming bill (House Bill 2168) already approved by the legislature to outlaw the skill games. They operate in the state under a grey area of the law.

There was confusion over the legislation. The skill games were getting taxed as a way to provide COVID-19 relief.

But the legislation was not supposed to let them continue to be offered in the state beyond this coming summer.

The new legislation is supposed to clear up the gaffe.

Since the plan came into effect last July, the skill games raised more than $70 million for the state’s coronavirus relief fund.

Games of skill are increasingly found in Virginia’s restaurants, truck stops, and convenience stores.

Richmond Narrows Casino-Resort Options

Also, in Virginia, Richmond officials narrowed the field of casino-resort final proposals from six to three. The trio of choices include: Bally’s, Live!, and One Casino.

Richmond is one of five Virginia cities that qualified for a casino-resort license under legislation passed last year and signed by Gov. Northam.