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DISPUTE OVER INTERNET CAFE SWEEPSTAKES BETTING IN MASSACHUSETTS
16th June, 2013 at 17:10:55
State Attorney General shutters two gaming arcades
The drive against sweepstakes-style gambling at US internet cafes (see previous reports) appears to have spread to Massachusetts, with reports in the Danver and Gloucester media detailing police shutdowns of two arcades in malls in the two towns.
The shutdowns are part of a police investigation into internet cafe gambling that has allegedly been authorised by the state Attorney General.
The owners of the enterprises have claimed that they were operating within the law, something the AG's office disputes. Other than commenting that the shutdowns were part of an illegal gambling investigation, the police and AG staff have so far declined to be more specific on the charges.
Operators Rosalie and Sam Parisi are trying to muster local support, using their website to urge state residents to contact the AG's office to protest the shut downs. The appeal for support reads:
"Both locations are closed until further notice. We are working hard to resolve this issue. If you would like to help us...voice your concern to the Massachusetts Attorney General's office. Sorry for any inconvenience."
Danvers town officials said that state law passed in 2012 contains provisions against 'sweepstakes' style internet cafe gambling, and operators who sell internet time not to surf the Web, but to gamble online.
The law had been applied against similar operations in Peabody, MA several months ago, they said.
The Parisi family argues that their patrons do not win cash prizes, but rather gift certificates to local restaurants, gas stations and stores. They say there are video games that "mimic" slot machines.
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