DANVERS — The owners of the Lucky 7 arcade inside the Liberty Tree Mall and in Gloucester insist that the game machines inside their businesses were perfectly legal because they involved “skill,” not chance, and did not pay winnings in cash, but in gift cards.
But an FBI expert familiar with the devices concluded that the games, “eight-liner slot machines,” involve no skill and are programmed to prevent the customer from altering the odds through any action, including pushing the “stop” button, according to an affidavit filed by investigators.
The affidavit, filed in support of search warrants for the two businesses, details a six-month investigation by state troopers working for the Attorney General’s office and the conclusions of FBI forensic examiner Deneen Hernandez. Copies of the warrants for the Danvers location, as well as for a credit union account held by the owners, were obtained yesterday by The Salem News.
So far, no charges have been filed against owners Sam and Rosalie Parisi of Gloucester. Brad Puffer, a spokesman for the AG, said he could not comment on the status of the investigation at this point.
The warrant applications contain details of undercover visits by troopers, who made their first visit to the Danvers arcade in January.
Based on what they found, Hernandez told them that it is impossible for a customer to increase his or her odds of winning by stopping the electronic “reels” on the game, as suggested by some Lucky 7 employees to undercover officers.
Instead, Hernandez said, when a customer presses the button to stop the machine, the machines will, after a brief delay, stop, but they are programmed to prevent the outcome from being altered by the player’s actions.
“Ms. Hernandez stated that there is no customer skill involved in determining the results and explained that game odds/payout percentage can be set on each machine’s mother board by configuring ... switches,” wrote trooper Jose Cuervas, an investigator in the case.