Multi-Agency Raids Target Illegal Gaming Establishments Across NC

Published on April 19, 2024

Charlotte fish arcade 1.jpg

Charlotte, N.C. – (Friday, Apr. 19, 2024) – A multi-agency operation involving federal, state and local law enforcement agencies raided illegal fish arcades across North Carolina, targeting locations in Charlotte, Raleigh, Gastonia and Matthews. The warrants totaled 800 charges.


The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department assisted along with officers and agents from North Carolina Alcohol Law Enforcement (ALE), Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Matthews Police Department, Gastonia Police Department, Gaston County Police Department and the Ranlo Police Department.


Illegal ‘fish arcades’ are locations where customers are given cash payouts for credits won on gaming machines. They involve games of chance and promote sweepstakes through entertaining displays, all of which violate North Carolina law.


On Wednesday, April 17, 2024, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department detectives executed search warrants at two locations related to illegal gambling in Charlotte: 4800 block of Albemarle Road and the 5000 block of Providence Road. Detectives seized 117 gambling stations, approximately $18,000 in cash and two firearms.


Khalil Okasha, 50, was arrested on gambling warrants related to the investigation. Antwan Webb, 38, was arrested for providing unlicensed armed security.


The other targeted locations across North Carolina are listed below:


  • 888 Arcade Raleigh – 3407 S. Wilmington St. Raleigh, NC
  • 888 Arcade Gastonia – 1375 Bessemer City Rd. Gastonia, NC
  • City Arcade – 9201 E. Independence Blvd. Matthews, NC
  • 2501 Wilmont Drive, Gastonia, NC


Additional individuals with warrants NOT served at this time in these investigations are listed below:


  • Nina Nashar of Gastonia, 29 (Warrant for Arrest NOT served at this time).
  • Nicole Nashar of Gastonia, 27 (Warrant for Arrest NOT served at this time).
  • Hani Nashar of Charlotte, (Warrant for Arrest NOT served at this time).
  • Haissam Nashar of Gastonia, 57 (Warrant for Arrest NOT served at this time).
  • Valarie Nashar of Gastonia, 54 (Warrant for Arrest NOT served at this time).
  • Lillian Nashar of Gastonia, 22 (Warrant for Arrest NOT served at this time).
  • Adam Nashar of Gastonia, 18 (Warrant for Arrest NOT served at this time).


These individuals are all facing charges for illegal gambling, conducting and promoting a sweepstakes business, continuing criminal enterprise and possession, storage and operation of video gambling machines. These charges are listed in North Carolina General Statutes 14-292, 14-301, 14-304, 14-306 and 14-309.


In addition, 21-year-old Ethan Phonphet of Bessemer City was arrested and charged with Unauthorized Possession of Spiritous Liquor, Carrying a Concealed Weapon, Possession of Marijuana Paraphernalia and Possession of Marijuana. 45-year-old Michael Johnson of Sanford was arrested and charged with Unauthorized Possession of Spiritous Liquor.


A total of 496 charges were filed in Mecklenburg County and 304 charges were filed in Gastonia.


Please see statements from several agencies involved below:

CMPD Chief Johnny Jennings

“These fish arcades and other illegal gambling locations are havens for criminal activity,” said Chief Johnny Jennings. “Often the most vulnerable members of our communities are targeted to gamble at these locations. We are very thankful for our local, state and federal law enforcement partners to help us send a message that we will not tolerate these establishments preying on our citizens.”

Homeland Security Special Agent in Charge Kyle Burns

“Apparently, these suspects never heard the adage that crime doesn’t pay, but thanks to this investigation they will learn that lesson and face the consequences of their criminal actions”, said Kyle Burns, acting Special Agent in Charge of HSI Charlotte that covers North and South Carolina. “HSI is committed to working with our law enforcement partners to detect and dismantle these criminal organizations that are destroying our communities.”

North Carolina Alcohol Law Enforcement Director Bryan House

“At ALE, we pride ourselves on the strong relationships we’ve built with our local and federal partners to enhance the safety of our communities and hold the individuals responsible for this organized criminal activity accountable. The successful conclusion of this operation is a testament to those partnerships.”

Matthews Police Chief Mike Clesceri

"I want to thank everyone involved in this investigation for all of their efforts and hard work performed to hold these individuals accountable", said Matthews Police Chief Mike Clesceri.  We at MPD are fortunate to serve in a region where law enforcement agencies have such an outstanding working relationship and collaborative commitment to keeping our respective communities safe." 




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