At the time, investigators suggested that, even if the games did involve skill, they would still be illegal as parts of the state’s gaming law do not allow gaming machines that provide cash or prizes of value.
The Lucky 7 case is not the first time the state has cracked down on Internet cafes.
Owners of Internet cafes have been tried and found guilty in both civil and criminal cases in 2013 and 2012, according to various statements and releases from the attorney general’s office.
In 2012, Gov. Deval Patrick signed off on an amended law from 2010 that outlawed owning or operating electronic gaming machines that meet certain criteria. Some of those criteria included slot machines, server-based games that have someone select prizes from a finite pool of entries, or require the customer to deposit money, tokens, coins or credit, debit and phone cards.
The Parisis’ attorneys, however, have argued that the AG’s reach into the Lucky 7 operations is a misuse of the state’s law, and the Parisis — when looking into opening their Danvers facility — had the backing of state Sen. Bruce Tarr, R-Gloucester, who said in October 2012 the arcade was in full compliance with the law. Tarr also praised Lucky 7 and the Parisis for boosting the local economy for promoting other businesses through the gift-card prizes.
Attorney Eric Tennen, also with Swomley and Tennen LLP, had written previously to the Parisis that it was “plainly obvious” that the state Legislature did not intend to criminalize what was already legal — such as the computer games at establishments such as Chuck E. Cheese’s or Dave and Busters.
Those establishments allow a customer to exchange money for tokens, which are then used to play games. The games award tickets, and those tickets are then cashed in for prizes.
A conviction on a charge of operating a game or gaming device comes with a state prison term of up to five years, a jail term of up to 21/2 years, a fine of up to $25,000, or a combination of all.
Organizing or promoting a lottery meanwhile comes with a $1,000 fine, up to a year in a house of correction, or both.
James Niedzinski can be reached at 978-675-2708 or at email@example.com.