NC-03: Allen Thomas — Mayor. (Internet sweepstakes kingpin ???)


The more you study this guy, the more interesting he gets.   Here is The Greenville Guardian circa 2013:


Here’s a timeline of events surrounding Allen Thomas’s involvement with sweepstakes businesses in Greenville, a story broken September 1 in The Daily Reflector.


March 16, 2009
Biltmore Venture Group, LLC (Limited Liability Company) files creation papers with the N.C. Secretary of State. In subsequent annual reports, the company lists Paul Adkison, John Eagan, and Robert Burton as members of the LLC.


According to testimony at a later Board of Adjustment hearing, Biltmore Venture Group, LLC started operating an internet sweepstakes cafe in 2010 in the Stantonsburg Shopping Center. It is still operating at that location today.


December 1, 2010
The North Carolina General Assembly bans internet sweepstakes cafes effective Dec. 1, 2010.


August 11, 2011
Allen Thomas files to run for Mayor of Greenville.


August 30, 2011
Biltmore Venture Group II, LLC files creation papers with the N.C. Secretary of State.


In North Carolina, Limited Liability Company creation papers do not require disclosing members’s names. The original filings for this second local company using the Biltmore name listed only John Eagan as the LLC’s registered agent. Member names were first disclosed on a separate document, dated September 28, 2012 (see below).


Allen Thomas later asserts to The Daily Reflector that he was a member of Biltmore II when it was founded. […] 

Oh, and HERE is some 2012 paperwork on file with the North Carolina secretary of state confirming Thomas’s  stake in the internet sweepstakes business.



September 26, 2011
Biltmore Venture Group II submits their application for a special use permit to operate a sweepstakes center in Greenville.


October 27, 2011
Biltmore Venture Group II, LLC appears before the Greenville Board of Adjustment (BOA) for a hearing on the request, seeking a permit for a sweepstakes business at 240-B SW Greenville Boulevard.


In the minutes from the meeting, Paul Adkison is identified as “one of the managing partners” of Biltmore II. He states his belief that his business is better than other internet sweepstakes businesses in the city and “feels that this something positive to the community.”


Biltmore Venture Group II was represented in the BOA proceeding by attorney Phil Dixon. Dixon says the applicants have been running another internet sweepstakes cafe, located in Stantonsburg Shopping Center, since 2010. The BOA approves the special-use permit.


October 2011
Biltmore Venture Group II opens its internet sweepstakes location at 240-B SW Greenville Boulevard.


According to campaign finance disclosure documents filed with the Pitt County Board of Elections, the Allen Thomas campaign receives contributions from five sweepstakes business owners, totaling $5,550. These contributions account for 15 percent of Thomas’ pre-election total.

Nov 08, 2011
Allen Thomas elected Mayor of Greenville.


Dec. 5, 2011
Allen Thomas sworn in as Mayor of Greenville.


Feb 20, 2012
Sweepstakes topics first appear before the city council.


From the meeting minutes:


Council Member Blackburn asked if it would be appropriate during the budget for them to look at the types of privilege licenses for certain types of businesses, for example sweepstakes or tobacco stores.


Mayor Thomas made no comment regarding sweepstakes during this meeting.


Aug 09, 2012
City council imposes a temporary development moratorium on internet sweepstakes businesses effective until January 11, 2013.


From the meeting minutes:


Motion was made by Council Member Joyner and seconded by Council Member Smith to adopt the ordinance establishing a six (6) month moratorium on the approval of special use permits for internet sweepstakes businesses. Motion carried unanimously. (Ordinance No. 12-034)


Mayor Thomas made no comment regarding sweepstakes during this meeting.


September 10, 2012
Two sweepstakes-related items appear on the city council agenda:
– Report on standards for internet sweepstakes businesses
– Discussion of privilege license fee structure for internet sweepstakes businesses


During discussion of privilege license fees, Director of Financial Services Bernita Demery states that if the city was to adopt a fee schedule of $1,000 per business location and $500 per internet sweepstakes computer terminal, the city could generate $200,000 annually.


The council minutes contain four pages of discussion on the topic. Generally, the council supported restrictions on the locations of sweepstakes businesses, but some members seemed opposed to a fee increase.


Council members Max Joyner, Jr. and Dennis Mitchell spoke against fee increases before Mayor Thomas spoke.


Mayor Thomas’s comments:


Allen Thomas:

“My question for you, Bernita is, this is the same philosophical discussion we had before when we were talking about business licenses, [that] you’re basing all of this off of gross receipts where literally a business could be next to bankrupt and we literally could be pushing them into bankruptcy based on such exorbitant amount of money that we want to put on any business, so how are you able to verify the difference between gross and net receipts because we don’t know what the net results are of certain businesses, so that’s a, I mean, to put a enormous burden on a business not knowing net receipt I think would be difficult to defend but, you have, do you know net receipts on these business, in this industry?”


Bernita Demery:
“This is an honor system, they report their gross receipts to us.”


Mayor Thomas:
“Gross numbers not net?”


Bernita Demery:


Mayor Thomas:


From the minutes:

Motion was made by Council Member Blackburn and seconded by Council Member Mercer to direct staff to bring back an ordinance to adopt the fee schedule of $1,000 per business location and $500 per internet sweepstakes computer terminal. Motion failed with a 2:4 vote. Council Members Blackburn and Mercer voted in favor of the motion and Mayor Protem Glover and Council Members Mitchell, Joyner and Smith voted in opposition.


September 28, 2012
Biltmore Venture Group II registered agent John Eagan files the company’s 2012 annual report with the N.C. Secretary of State. The one-page document lists Allen Thomas as a member, along with Eagan and Robert Burton. The document was signed and dated by Eagan.


Eagan and Thomas later assert to The Daily Reflector that Thomas’s name was listed in error.


October 8, 2012
Sweepstakes topics appear before city council.According to the minutes, city staff presented an update to their previous report titled “Report on standards for internet sweepstakes businesses.”


No comments from Mayor Thomas.


December 13, 2012
City council passes the new sweepstakes ordinance limiting where sweepstakes businesses can be located. The new ordinance does not apply to existing sweepstakes businesses.


According to the minutes, Mayor Thomas made no comments during this debate.


December 16, 2012
The state Supreme Court upholds the state’s ban on sweepstakes machines.


July 11, 2013
Mayor Allen Thomas files for re-election.


August 20, 2013
After questions are raised by The Daily Reflector, Biltmore Venture Group II files an amended 2013 annual report which removes Allen Thomas from the list of company members. The LLC currently lists its members as Paul Adkison, John Eagan and Robert Burton.


According to the N.C. Secretary of State, the company amended only their 2013 annual report. The 2012 annual report listing Allen Thomas remains unamended at this time.


September 1, 2013
The Daily Reflector publishes a front-page article, “Mayor explains ties to business”, detailing Thomas’ involvement with Greenville area sweepstakes businesses.


In the article, Allen Thomas states he left Biltmore Venture Group II in 2011, with the deal closing in January 2012.


In several interviews, Thomas offers multiple reasons for his decision to discontinue involvement with Biltmore Venture Group II.


In one instance, Thomas told The Reflector that he pulled money out of Biltmore Venture Group II in order to invest his resources in “a child protection software company” called Zabra.


According to Zabra’s website, the company’s leadership includes Paul Adkison and Allen Thomas. Paul Adkison is a current member of two companies that operate internet sweepstakes operations in Greenville.


But did Thomas actually quit the internet sweepstakes business?  The secretary of state lists “Zabra, LLC”  as a member of Biltmore Ventures Group II when it was administratively dissolved in 2016.