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June 13, 2013

AG: No comment on arcade probe

Fate of Lucky 7 may hinge on cyber café law

DANVERS — With little explanation, state and local police, at the behest of the attorney general’s office, on Tuesday shut down the Lucky 7 Arcades in Danvers and Gloucester. Danvers officials had the business at the Liberty Tree Mall under scrutiny for months, but it had won praise from Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr, R-Gloucester.

“We will be closed until further notice, sorry for the inconvenience,” said a woman’s voice on the answering machine at the number of the Gloucester location, which has been around for about seven years.

In Danvers, town officials were wondering if the casino-like arcade was legal. Its owners have long maintained it offered arcade games for adults, like a Chuck E. Cheese for adults. It involved mostly senior citizens playing penny games trying to win gift certificates to local restaurants.

Brad Puffer, a spokesman for the attorney general’s office, said his office cannot comment on ongoing investigations. Puffer confirmed that the office executed a search warrant, however.

While the reasons the state shut down Lucky 7 Arcade are not known, part of the reasoning may depend on whether the slot-machine devices require skill, like an amusement game, or purely luck, like a sweepstakes, to pay off. A lot may also depend on the state’s 2011 gambling law as it relates to slot machines. This law tightened the definitions surrounding amusement devices, saying slot machines are not amusement devices like pinball machines.

At the urging of now-selectmen Chairman Gardner Trask, Danvers officials last year inquired of Lucky 7, and all other holders of coin-operated amusement device licenses, whether their machines complied with the state’s 2012 cyber café law. A detective even paid a visit to the establishment in October.

This law was meant to crack down on store owners who were selling Internet time, but who were, the state alleges, operating online casinos with a chance to play a sweepstakes.

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