Date/Time of Offense: Friday, February 10, 2023.
Offense(s)/Charge(s): Felony Possession of Five or More Gaming Machines
Misdemeanor Possession of a Slot-Style Machine
Location of Incident: SKILLZ, 1110 Barkley Road, Statesville.
Suspect(s): Nishit Chandrakant Patel
Dharminkumar Rameshbahi Patel
310 East Wood Drive
Salisbury, North Carolina
Sheriff Darren Campbell stated: On Friday, February 10, 2023, Iredell County Sheriff’s Office Narcotics Division Investigators, along with deputies from the Aggressive Criminal Enforcement (ACE) Team, executed a search warrant at SKILLZ Game Room located at 1110 Barkley Road Statesville after discovering the location was operating an illegal gambling operation.
During the month of January 2023, investigators identified nine locations in Iredell County operating illegal “gaming machines” and paying winnings out in cash.
These gambling machines are illegal to own and operate, and paying cash winnings violates North Carolina General Statute 14-306.1A. Undercover investigators with the Iredell County Sheriff’s Office entered the businesses and observed the illegal operation in person, which included playing games and receiving payment for their winnings.
Based on this evidence, the Iredell County Sheriff’s Office served each location with a “Cease and Desist Letter” informing the business owners they must stop all illegal operations no later than 15 days upon delivery of the notice.
Investigators continued to monitor each location after serving them with the letter. Additional undercover operations revealed that most businesses complied; however, this business merely changes the computer software in an attempt to avoid having to discontinue operations.
Undercover investigators went into the businesses and once again observed the illegal operation and were again paid in cash after winning. SKILLZ Game Room was one of these locations.
Narcotics Investigators obtained a search warrant for the business. Upon execution of the warrant at SKILLZ, investigators discovered over 60 machines that were being used to conduct illegal gambling operations.
Possession of five or more of these types of machines is a felony in North Carolina. Each hard drive was disconnected and seized along with 2,960.00 cash.
Investigators spoke with the business owners by telephone. They asked the men to come to the business. The owners never showed up to meet with the investigators. Investigators are drawing arrest warrants on the business owners.
Sheriff Campbell stated, “This is not an isolated incident, and investigators will continue to monitor these places, and additional search warrants will be executed if the illegal activity continues. These businesses breed other types of crimes, such as robberies, assaults, and drug activity”.