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 LUCKY 7 NEWS

   Lucky 7 Arcade - endorses Steve Grossman for Governor and Warren Tolman for Attorney General. We believe they will have a different outlook on our arcade than Martha Coakley did.  Please get out and Vote for the Primary on Tuesday, Sept. 9.

We are still working on reopen! Please continue to support us!

 


GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

July 10, 2014

Editorial: Lucky 7 deal leaves lingering questions for AG


Gloucester Daily Times

---- — In many ways, the court memorandum of agreement between the office of Attorney General Martha Coakley and the Lucky 7 arcades comes across as a victory for the Lucky 7 corporation and the Gloucester-rooted Parisi family that runs it.

The Parisis, after all, will get back an estimated $150,000 in assets seized in the raids of June 2013 and held ever since by the state. And neither the corporation nor registered owner Rosalie Parisi had to admit to any crime or even wrongdoing, despite the fact that the corporation will be on three years’ pre-trial probation and the arcades in Gloucester and Danvers will not be able to reopen under the state’s current casino law.

But while it’s understandable that Sam Parisi, Rosalie’s husband and an active player in organizing support for the family’s court case, conceded he’s “glad it’s over,” this saga should not, by a long shot, be over for Coakley, either as attorney general or as she continues her pursuit of the governor’s seat.

For she and her staff must now be accountable for explaining precisely why they led the charge to raid, shut down and seize all of the assets of this small family-run business if they now agree, as they have, that the Parisis and Lucky 7 committed no real crime.

And while the office can still insist that the Lucky 7s were somehow an illegal “slots parlor” running an “illegal lottery,” then they might also explain precisely how much this entire debacle has cost taxpayers, from the first shutdown of a gift game motherboard through the final signing of the AG’s virtual surrender agreement Tuesday in Gloucester District Court.

The agreement seems to make one thing clear. While anyone would be hard-pressed to cite legitimate differences between the Lucky 7’s offering of local business gift certificates as prizes to the games featured at larger stops like Chuck e. Cheese’s and Dave & Buster’s, there are clearly discrepancies within the state’s 2011 casino law and the guidelines under which Lucky 7 opened and operated for six years in Gloucester before venturing to Danvers in 2012.

In that vein, perhaps it’s a good thing that — thanks to the state’s highest court — voters will get a chance to consider repealing that law on the November ballot.

Let’s hope the AG’s office’s heavy-handed action against Lucky 7 is at least a part of that debate.

GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

July 9, 2014

Lucky 7 gets back assets, can't reopen

By James Niedzinski
Staff Writer

---- — The Lucky 7 arcades in Gloucester and Danvers cannot reopen under current law, and the corporation that operates them has been placed on three years’ probation.

But Lucky 7 and the Parisi family that owned and operated the facilities before being shut down by state and local police and the Attorney General’s Office last year will get back most of their assets under a memorandum of agreement signed Tuesday morning in Gloucester District Court. And the agreement does not include any admission of guilt or wrongdoing by the family or the Lucky 7 corporation.

The legal battle that spanned more than a year came to an end Tuesday when the office of Attorney General Martha Coakley and the owners of the Lucky 7 Arcade reached an agreement.

The arcades in Gloucester and Danvers were shut down last June, and the corporation was charged with organizing and promoting a lottery and unlawful operation of a game or gaming device.

The Parisis’ lawyer, John Swomley, and John Verner, the chief of the criminal bureau for the AG’s office, met briefly in Gloucester District Court to submit their agreement. The sentence is pretrial probation, not the more traditional probation that comes after a court finding of wrongdoing.

Gloucester resident Rosalie Parisi is the owner of the family-run arcade businesses that had been operating for six years on Rogers Street in Gloucester and for 10 months at Danvers’ Liberty Tree Mall in Danvers. Her daughter, Janine Parisi Brooks, managed the Gloucester arcade.

$150K in assets

The agreement means the Parisis will get back an estimated $150,000 in assets that had been seized by the state, Rosalie Parisi said. Swomley said the company, however, will not be able to keep some specific gaming circuit boards.

Under the agreement, the company and employees must adhere to state laws related to gaming and cannot open, engage in, or work for any business that violates those laws, according to the AG’s office — even through the family did not admit to any guilt or wrongdoing. If the AG determined that probation was violated, the case would go back on track for a trial.

The raid on both arcades, carried out simultaneously in Gloucester and Danvers in June 2013, included not only the shutdown of the shops but the seizure of the corporation’s bank accounts and other assets. It was not until a January arraignment that the AG’s office filed the charges of organizing and promoting a lottery and unlawful operation of a game or gaming device. .

Tuesday, Swomley and Verner chatted side by side outside the courtroom to finalize the language for the agreement while Parisi family members listened intently.

Swomley said that although he and the AG’s office disagree about the return of gaming circuit boards, it was a way for the state to get “something for their troubles.” He said the Parisis had no intention of keeping the circuit boards anyhow, since they cannot reopen under the agreement and under the state’s current casino law.

According to court documents, the gaming components are to be sold at the discretion of the AG’s office; with two-thirds of the profit returning to the Lucky 7 and one third going back to the state. Swomley noted that some of the estimated $150,000 being returned to the family will go toward debts such as wages and rent costs.

’Glad it’s over’

Sam Parisi, Rosalie’s husband said he was pleased with the deal.

”I’m glad it’s over,” he said outside of the courtroom. “I wouldn’t wish this on my worst enemies, what we went through.”

The family still holds some resentment for the way their case was handled and had challenged the shutdown from the start.

Rosalie Parisi was not alone in the fight. She and other family members were backed by supporters when appearing in Gloucester District Court, while Sam Parisi even organized a protest against gubernatorial candidate and Attorney General Martha Coakley when she stopped in Gloucester to speak at a Democratic campaigning event in early May.

Sam Parisi added he was “very thankful” for supporters of the arcade, who also backed the business through letters to the Gloucester Daily Times.

The Parisis and Swomley said they still equate the arcade to other businesses such as Dave and Busters and Chuck e. Cheese’s. The latter still has a branch in Danvers.

In the Lucky 7 Arcade, players exchanged money for tokens. Those tokens were then used to play games, during which the user had to press a button to stop symbols to win a prize. Those prizes were not cash, but gift cards to local businesses, such as dinner certificates for local restaurants. Sam Parisi also reiterated that the arcade obtained several permits on local and state levels to operate the gaming machines before opening.

The attorney general’s office had asserted that slot machine games do not involve skill, only luck or chance, and the player had no affect on the outcome of the game.

AG maintains stand

The AG’s office stood its ground Tuesday, asserting that the arcade functioned as “a slot parlor.”

“Today’s agreement appropriately resolves the case and ensures that this unregulated slot parlor operating in violation of state law is no longer able to operate in Massachusetts,” Emalie Gainey, spokeswoman for Attorney General Martha Coakley said in an email.

State law defines a slot machine as a device or machine that accepts tokens or coins so the player can operate the machine “whether by reason of the skill of the operator or application of the element of chance, or both” and be rewarded with cash or something that has a “cash value.”

For now, the Parisi family will continue to fight on another front. They want to repeal the state’s casino law, passed in 2011 that legalized some forms of gambling.

Repeal hopes

A referendum to repeal the law is expected to be on the ballot for November elections. Coakley said that the law could not be subjected to a ballot repeal, but the Supreme Judicial Court unanimously ruled in favor of having the question appear on the ballot.

If the ballot repeal were to succeed and current casino regulations struck down, the Lucky 7s could have a shot of opening again down the line, if the memorandum agreement between the AG’s office and the Lucky 7 Arcade is modified, the Parisis suggested Tuesday.

“It’s a victory, but not the end!” Janine Brooks said in a written statement regarding the family’s agreement. “The state has taken our livelihood away and caused emotional turmoil to my family and I for the past year.”

“(But) if the casino law changes, I will do whatever it takes to reopen for my loyal customers,” she added. “Hold onto your cards.”

James Niedzinski can be reached at 978-675-2708, or at jniedzinski@gloucestertimes.com.


SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

July 8, 2014

Settlement: Lucky 7 gets back $150K in assets but can't reopen

Agreement between owners, AG defines no guilt or wrongdoing

By James Niedzinski
Staff Writer

---- — The Lucky 7 arcades in Gloucester and Danvers cannot reopen under current law, and the corporation that operates them has been placed on three years’ probation.

But Lucky 7 and the Parisi family that owned and operated the facilities before being shut down by state and local police and the attorney general’s Office last year will get back most of their assets under a memorandum of agreement signed Tuesday morning in Gloucester District Court. The agreement does not include any admission of guilt or wrongdoing by the family or the Lucky 7 corporation.

The legal battle that spanned more than a year came to an end Tuesday when the office of Attorney General Martha Coakley and the owners of the Lucky 7 Arcade reached an agreement.

The arcades in Gloucester and Danvers were shut down last June, and the corporation was charged with organizing and promoting a lottery and unlawful operation of a game or gaming device.

The Parisis’ lawyer, John Swomley, and John Verner, the chief of the criminal bureau for the AG’s office, met briefly in Gloucester District Court to submit their agreement. The sentence is pretrial probation, not the more traditional probation that comes after a court finding of wrongdoing.

Gloucester resident Rosalie Parisi is the owner of the family-run arcade businesses that had been operating for six years on Rogers Street in Gloucester and for 10 months at Danvers’ Liberty Tree Mall in Danvers. Her daughter, Janine Parisi Brooks, managed the Gloucester arcade.

$150K in assets

The agreement means the Parisis will get back an estimated $150,000 in assets that had been seized by the state, Rosalie Parisi said. Swomley said the company, however, will not be able to keep some specific gaming circuit boards.

Under the agreement, the company and employees must adhere to state laws related to gaming and cannot open, engage in, or work for any business that violates those laws, according to the AG’s office — even through the family did not admit to any guilt or wrongdoing. If the AG determined that probation was violated, the case would go back on track for a trial.

The raid on both arcades, carried out simultaneously in Gloucester and Danvers in June 2013, included not only the shutdown of the shops but the seizure of the corporation’s bank accounts and other assets. It was not until a January arraignment that the AG’s office filed the charges of organizing and promoting a lottery and unlawful operation of a game or gaming device. .

Tuesday, Swomley and Verner chatted side by side outside the courtroom to finalize the language for the agreement while Parisi family members listened intently.

Swomley said that although he and the AG’s office disagree about the return of gaming circuit boards, it was a way for the state to get “something for their troubles.” He said the Parisis had no intention of keeping the circuit boards anyhow, since they cannot reopen under the agreement and under the state’s current casino law.

According to court documents, the gaming components are to be sold at the discretion of the AG’s office; with two-thirds of the profit returning to the Lucky 7 and one third going back to the state.

’Glad it’s over’

Sam Parisi, Rosalie’s husband said he was pleased with the deal.

“I’m glad it’s over,” he said outside of the courtroom. “I wouldn’t wish this on my worst enemies, what we went through.”

The family still holds some resentment for the way their case was handled and had challenged the shutdown from the start.

The Parisis and Swomley said they still equate the arcade to other businesses such as Dave and Busters and Chuck e. Cheese. The latter still has a branch in Danvers.

In the Lucky 7 Arcade, players exchanged money for tokens. Those tokens were then used to play games, during which the user had to press a button to stop symbols to win a prize. Those prizes were not cash, but gift cards to local businesses, such as dinner certificates for local restaurants. Sam Parisi also reiterated that the arcade obtained several permits on local and state levels to operate the gaming machines before opening.

The attorney general’s office had asserted that slot machine games do not involve skill, only luck or chance, and the player had no affect on the outcome of the game.

AG maintains stand

The AG’s office stood its ground Tuesday, asserting that the arcade functioned as “a slot parlor.”

“Today’s agreement appropriately resolves the case and ensures that this unregulated slot parlor operating in violation of state law is no longer able to operate in Massachusetts,” Emalie Gainey, spokeswoman for Attorney General Martha Coakley said in an email.

For now, the Parisi family will continue to fight on another front. They want to repeal the state’s casino law, passed in 2011 that legalized some forms of gambling.

Repeal hopes

A referendum to repeal the law is expected to be on the ballot for November elections. Coakley said that the law could not be subjected to a ballot repeal, but the Supreme Judicial Court unanimously ruled in favor of having the question appear on the ballot.

If the ballot repeal were to succeed and current casino regulations struck down, the Lucky 7s could have a shot of opening again down the line, if the memorandum agreement between the AG’s office and the Lucky 7 Arcade is modified, the Parisis suggested Tuesday.

 

 

 

(MOST RECENT FIRST)

 

GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

May 21, 2014

July date set for Lucky 7 hearing

By Arianna MacNeill
Staff Writer

---- — Lucky 7 Arcade officials and supporters will have to wait until July 8 for their case to come up for a pre-trial hearing.

The hearing was originally set for Tuesday in Gloucester District Court, but had to be put off because the -shuttered arcades’ attorney, John Swomley of Swomley and Tennen LLP in Boston, was handling a trial for another client at that time. Swomley filed the motion to postpone the hearing in court Monday morning.

Rosalie Parisi, who owns the arcades in both Gloucester and Danvers, is contesting charges handed down from state Attorney General Martha Coakley’s office alleging that the business organized an illegal lottery through the unlawful operation of its games and gaming devices. State and local police stormed into both of the Lucky 7’s locations — on Rogers Street and in Danvers’ Liberty Tree Mall — 11 months ago and shut down the businesses, seizing the Lucky 7 machines and the Parisi family’s assets in the process. The charges were then filed this past January.

Lucky 7 Arcade is the only defendant in this case. If found guilty, the owners/operators could face a $100,000 fine, up to five years in a state prison or 2 1/2 years in a house of corrections.

Arianna MacNeill can be reached at 978-675-2710 or at amacneill@gloucestertimes.com. Follow her on Twitter at @GDTArianna. Check for her blog posts in Cape Ann Chat on the GDT’s website.

GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

May 9, 2014

Correction


Gloucester Daily Times

---- — The Gloucester Daily Times aims to be accurate. If you are aware of a factual error in a story, please call Times Editor Ray Lamont at 978-675-2705.

A subhead over the story about the Lucky 7 arcades and the state Attorney General’s office in Thursday’s edition incorrectly indicated that the “owner” of the arcades had commented on a plea offer from the AG’s office.

Rosalie Parisi is the sole owner of the Lucky 7s, but the comment was made by her husband, Sam, not by her.

 

 

GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

May 8, 2014

Lucky 7 turned down deal

Owner: Offer from AG's office 'wasn't that attractive'

By James Niedzinski
Staff Writer

---- — The family that owns the closed-down Lucky 7 arcades in Gloucester and Danvers rejected a plea agreement offer from the office of Attorney General Martha Coakley while continuing to fight the gaming charges facing the business, one of the family principals says.

Sam Parisi, whose wife Rosalie is owner of the two arcades that were raided and shut down by local and state police last June at the direction of the AG’s office, said the Lucky 7 corporation, listed as the defendant in a case that does not cite any individuals, was offered a deal by the AG’s office roughly one month ago.

He did not specify a settlement amount or any other details of a possible agreement.

“It wasn’t really that attractive,” Parisi said. “We didn’t feel good about it.”

Coakley’s office has charged the Lucky 7 Arcade with organizing and promoting a lottery and unlawful operation of a game or gaming device. The Parisis claim their gaming machines are not slot machines — that they involve skill. The AG’s office is asserting that there is no skill involved in the games.

While the arcades — on Rogers Street in Gloucester and in Danvers’ Liberty Tree Mall — were shut down last June, the charges were not outlined until January. In the raids, authorities seized all of the Lucky 7 corporation’s assets, including the motherboards for games that offered customers the chance to win gift certificates to local businesses, but not cash.

Coakley’s office declined to comment on this story, but the attorney general confirmed during a visit to Gloucester on Sunday to speak at a local Democratic Party breakfast that “discussions” were ongoing with the Parisis’ attorney.

Rosalie Parisi — who is often accompanied by family and friends when appearing in Gloucester District Court — is due back on May 20 for a pretrial hearing. Janine Parisi, Sam and Rosalie’s daughter, had served as manager of the Gloucester arcade for the family-run business.

Meanwhile, nearly 40 protesters, including an attorney and other merchants who have faced similar situations, showed up outside the Tavern on the Harbor Sunday to show their support for the Lucky 7s in the face of Coakley’s visit.

The Gloucester Lucky 7 had operated for more than six years, while the Liberty Tree Mall outlet had opened in the summer of 2012, less than a year before the raid and shutdown.

Sam Parisi said that when the arcades were up and running, they were “doing OK” financially, but he added that the family was “not making a fortune” either.

He and other family members have continued to press for Lucky 7’s collective innocence, and that meant one bottom line for the offer he says they received from Coakley’s office.

“It was just so little; it was just unacceptable,” Parisi said. “That’s where it stood.”

James Niedzinski can be reached at 978-675-2708, or at jniedzinski@gloucestertimes.com.

 

GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

May 5, 2014

Lucky 7 backers hit Coakley visit

By James Niedzinski
Staff Writer

---- — About 40 people were holding signs and waving to passers-by Sunday morning outside the Tavern on the Harbor, where Attorney General Martha Coakley addressed party supporters at the Gloucester Democrats’ Annual Breakfast.

But the demonstrators were not there to support Coakley; they were there to rally and back the Gloucester family-owned Lucky 7 Arcade, a business that Coakley’s office raided and essentially shut down at locations both here and in Danvers last June.

The crowd was lined up along the entrance of Tavern on the Harbor on Washington Street Sunday to greet Coakley’s arrival for the 11:30 a.m. event, with some hurling verbal barbs at the AG and gubernatorial candidate as she walked up to the Tavern. There were, however, no confrontations and no police action.

The owner of the arcades, Rosalie Parisi was not at the demonstration. Her husband, Sam Parisi, said the family’s and corporation’s lawyer advised it was best for her not be present. And Parisi noted that no signs bore the family name or referred to personal attacks on Coakley.

Among the sign slogans at the scene were those that read, “Martha took away my social life” and “Martha took away jobs from Gloucester and Danvers.” Along Washington Street, the gateway to the city’s downtown, harborfront and the Tavern, one sign just posted just above Tally’s Corner read, “Thanks to Martha Coakley, I am out of a job — Lucky 7 cost 19 jobs.” Another, tacked onto the corner of Sebastian’s Pizza, read, “Martha Hurt Lucky 7.”

Sam Parisi, whose family is fighting the accusations that the arcades in Gloucester and Danvers’ Liberty Tree Mall were running illegal gaming and an illegal lottery, said he had been planning some sort of public demonstration for weeks. Parisi, a Democrat, was reminded of the annual breakfast about two weeks ago and thought it would be a good stage.

He stood his ground that the company was innocent.

”They have nothing, in my opinion,” he said, referring to the AG’s case evidence. The raid and shutdown by state and local police also included the seizure of all of Lucky 7’s equipment and assets.

Inside the Tavern, Coakley stood firm on the charges in a brief interview with the Times.

GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

March 25, 2014

Lucky 7 to fight charges from AG

By James Niedzinski
Staff Writer

---- — The Gloucester owner of the Lucky 7 arcades is committed to fighting the gaming charges filed against her company, their attorney said Tuesday, minutes after a pre-trial conference in the case was postponed in Gloucester District Court.

Boston-based attorney John Swomley of Swomley & Tennen LLP, representing Lucky 7 owner Rosalie Parisi, said he’s convinced that the charges of unlawful operation of a game or gaming device and one charge of organizing or promoting a lottery should never have been filed against the business, which had operated at the west end of Gloucester’s Rogers Street for seven years, then added an arcade in Danvers’ Liberty Tree Mall in the summer of 2012.

Massachusetts State Police and local police in Gloucester and Danvers, acting on orders from the office of state Attorney General Martha Coakley, raided and abruptly shut down both arcades last June 11, seizing the game machines and motherboards, and freezing the company’s assets in the process.

“The charges were brought forth for political reasons, which we find unpalatable,” Swomley said of the allegations. He did not elaborate.

The charges were outlined in Gloucester District Court briefly in January, roughly seven months after the seizure and shutdown. A pre-trial conference had been scheduled for Monday, but was postponed, with a new pretrial conference has been set for May 20 in Gloucester. No individuals are named as defendants in the case. The charges are filed only against Lucky 7 Arcade LLC.

The Gloucester location of the arcade was operating for about seven years, while the branch at the Liberty Tree Mall in Danvers was signed off on by the Board of Selectmen in April 2012. The arcade operated machines that allowed customers to earn prizes, but did not pay off in cash — allowing players to win gift certificates for dinners at local restaurants and other awards.

A spokeswoman for the AG’s office declined to comment on Swomley’s statement about the charges being purely political, while also declining to indicate who, if anyone, may have filed any complaints against the Lucky 7 businesses.

In a recent visit to the Times, Coakley, who is running for governor, said that, in general, her office only takes action after receiving complaints, whether that be from a police department or anyone else.

Coakley’s office has cracked down on Internet cafes and phone card lotteries in an effort to quell illegal gambling, resulting in both civil and criminal cases.

Sam Parisi, Rosalie’s husband, has said the family had done everything to comply with state law, including approval from various departments and boards in Danvers and Gloucester, approval from the Division of Standards for the machines and letter of support from State Sen. Bruce Tarr, R-Gloucester. The city, as well as Danvers, accepted licensing fees annually to host each gaming machine.

Parisi suggested that, under the state’s gaming law, businesses like Chuck E. Cheese’s — which has a location in Danvers — or the national chain Dave and Busters could easily be considered in violation as well. Both chains offer games and machines that pay off in prizes.

During her Gloucester visit, however, Coakley said she sees establishments such as the Lucky 7 as a different matter.

“I haven’t been to Chuck E. Cheese’s lately,” Coakley said, “but my understanding is that places such as those may have these games, but they’re ancillary to the businesses. Their business is as a restaurant — serving food, then this is entertainment.

“My understanding of (Lucky 7) is that the sole business is a form of gaming,” Coakely added. “Regardless of how it pays — whether gift certificates or not — it’s not a restaurant, it’s in the sole business of operating games, so it’s quite different, in my mind.”

In filings with the Secretary of State, the Lucky 7 Arcade had the intention of selling non alcoholic beverages and snack foods as an “incidental to the main business activity of the company,” and operating automatic amusement devices.

But the arcade’s expansion into Danvers and opening at Liberty Tree had drawn questions from town officials.

At that time, there was one dissenting vote by Gardner Trask, who now chairs the Board of Selectmen.

”I was concerned at the time about the legitimacy of the enterprise,” he said Monday, adding that he did not file a complaint with the AG’s office.

”The business they engaged in appeared to be very close to gambling,” he added.

In September of 2012, Danvers Town Clerk Joseph Collins and others started asking questions if the arcade is in line with state gambling laws.

”(But) based on what (the Board of Selectmen) had before them, they had no reason not to grant it,” Collins said.

Danvers Police Chief Neil Ouellette declined to comment, as the AG’s office is investigating the case.

According to state law, anyone who operates a game or gaming device in violation of state law can face no more than five years in a state prison, 21/2 years in a house of corrections, a fine of $25,000 or both.

Raffles and bazaars are permitted with certain guidelines under a different state law.

Times editor Ray Lamont contributed to this story by James Niedzinski, who can be reached at 978-675-2708 or at jniedzinski@gloucestertimes.com.

 
 

GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

January 25, 2014

Lucky 7 charges outlined

By James Niedzinski
Staff Writer

---- — Seven months after their arcades in Gloucester and Danvers were raided and shut down by state and local police, Lucky 7 proprietors Sam and Rosalie Parisi were surrounded by friends and family Friday as their attorney relayed the charges now filed by the state Attorney General’s office at Gloucester District Court.

The Parisis and their attorney, John Swomley of the Boston-based firm Swomley & Tennen LLP, appeared briefly in court with Assistant Attorney General Thomas Ralph, representing the office of AG Martha Coakley. Ralph is the head of the AG’s Cyber Crime Division.

The only topic discussed was arranging a pre-trial date, which is set for March 24. Swomley declined to comment on the legal proceedings.

According to the AG’s office, Lucky 7 Arcade LLC is facing one charge of unlawful operation of a game or gaming device and one charge of organizing or promoting a lottery.

The company is the only defendant in the case. None of the Parisis is criminally charged individually; Rosalie is listed as the manager of the company, while she and Sam’s daughter, Jeannine, had been running the Gloucester facility.

On June 11, state and local authorities abruptly froze the family-owned corporation’s bank accounts, and seized motherboards, computers and gift cards in both Lucky 7 arcades — at the original site on Rogers Street in Gloucester and at the arcade’s Liberty Tree Mall location in Danvers, which had opened less than a year earlier.

The arcades allowed a customer to pay to play Lucky 7’s computerized games, to win games on the machines, and, after accumulating enough points, to redeem them for gift cards to local restaurants and other businesses. The arcades and their games, however, did not pay off in cash.

An affidavit released last summer detailed a six-month investigation by undercover state troopers.

In the warrant applications, an FBI forensic examiner determined that there was no skill involved in games at the Lucky 7, and that the machines themselves are programmed to prevent the player from having any affect on the outcome of the game.

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 AG’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 jniedzinski@gloucestertimes.com.

 

 

 

GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

August 16, 2013

Lucky 7 customers left holding cash points

By Marjorie Nesin
Staff Writer

---- — The June police raids on the Gloucester-based Lucky 7 arcade and a second outlet in Danvers, not only left the Gloucester family who owned the arcades in financial turmoil, but wiped out any value of points customers had earned at the two locations, and left them wondering where to turn.

Beverly resident Paul Savoy said he and his wife had planned to cash in their nearly $200 worth of points for gift cards to a favorite Danvers restaurant. They decided to hang onto the points, and redeem them the following night, when they learned the arcade had run out of gift card prizes to that particular restaurant.

“Then the next day, I believe it was, we heard they were closed,” Savoy said. “I thought what an absolute waste of time, sending state police there. This is a totally 100 percent innocent operation that was just a load of fun.”

When Attorney General Martha Coakley’s office shut down the business on June 11, her office froze the business bank accounts and all Lucky 7 assets held by owners Rosalie and Sam Parisi. Authorities also seized motherboards from the arcade’s game computers.

Two months later, the state has yet to press any charges against the business or the Gloucester family. And, under the statute of limitations, the state could hang on to the seized assets for up to five years.

The Attorney General’s office has declined to comment on the case, calling it an ongoing investigation. The Parisi family, who have remained mostly quiet since the initial closure, did not return calls for comment this week.

Savoy said he can only hope that the state releases the assets and allows the family to reopen the business — not just so he can redeem his $200 worth of prizes, but so customers can return to enjoying the facilities, and for the sake of a family he had never met.

“I judged (the Parisi family) by what I saw at Lucky 7, and I never saw anybody out of line there. It was just a mellow, mellow, fun place,” Savoy said.

Savoy and his wife would visit the arcade’s Danvers location with friends four to five times a week, not for a shot at riches, but to socialize and spend some time out, he said. Sometimes they would use restaurant gift cards they frequently redeemed from points won at the arcade to eat dinner out before heading to play the games.

Other customers, who preferred to hang onto their points and use them to play again, were also left hanging after the raid.

Barbara Tadiello first played at the Lucky 7 in Gloucester, then started visiting the Danvers location when the Parisi family opened a branch in the Liberty Tree Mall last year. Tadiello, rather than trading in her points won for gift cards, would save the points and redeem them for playing time.

“I figured, when I go back I’ll have money to play again, and I’ll do that,” Tadiello said.

Tadiello guessed that a lot of her fellow retirees who played the games were in the same boat as her and Savoy.

On top of her points having lost their worth, Lucky 7’s closing left her with “nothing” as far as comparable options for enjoying time with peers.

“The people that you’d sit next to, we would talk and get to know each other and all. It was really great,” Tadiello said. “I just hope they can come back.”

Marjorie Nesin can be reached at 978-283-7000, x3451, or at mnesin@gloucestertimes.com.

 

GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

August 5, 2013

Lucky 7 questions focus on state law

By Marjorie Nesin
Staff Writer

---- — Two months after a June 11 state raid of Gloucester’s Lucky 7 Arcade froze the business’s bank account and pulled machine motherboards, gift cards and computers from their locations in Gloucester and Danvers, the phone line at the Rogers Street location is disconnected and the lights remain out.

But the state has still not yet pressed any charges against the business or the Gloucester family that owns and operates both facilities.

Under the statute of limitations, the state could hang on to the seized assets for up to five years, while owners Rosalie and Sam Parisi, who operated the business as a family enterprise, wait.

Though the family has remained mostly silent since the bust, on the day of the raid, Janine Parisi, the owners’ daughter who runs the Gloucester location, said the raid and closing of the arcades had rocked her family, many of whom work at the two locations or depend on their revenues.

“We’re pretty shook up ...,” Parisi said at the time. “This is our life, this is our business. Our whole family works for this.”

No one from the family could be reached for comment or returned phone calls last week.

The shut down was the latest in a series of investigations by the Attorney General’s office into similar businesses. Since 2010, Coakley’s office has shut down a number of Internet cafes that allow patrons to purchase Internet time, primarily to use that time for gambling on electronic screens.

This past August, Gov. Deval Patrick signed into law legislation that created a new charge “for conducting or promoting an unauthorized sweepstakes that is executed through the use of the display of an electronic machine,” according to statement’s from the Attorney General’s office. Those charges would carry a penalty of up to $250,000 per machine and/or a state prison sentence of up to 15 years.

But a letter addressed to the Parisis from their attorney, Eric Tennen, and obtained by the Times states that Senator Bruce Tarr told Tennen “no one thought the new law would criminalize what was already allowed.” Tennen reflected that sentiment.

“I think it plainly obvious that the Legislature did not intend to criminalize what was already legal (e.g. Lucky 7, Chuck E. Cheese’s, Dave and Busters, etc.) However they did not harmonize the new law with the old,” Tennen wrote.

Tarr was not available for comment Friday. But Tarr had endorsed the Gloucester Lucky 7 as the family prepared to expand to their Danvers location within the Liberty Tree Mall in 2012. The Gloucester location had been operating for six years at that time.

Neither arcade pays off in cash to customers, but instead pays in gift certificates to local restaurants and other businesses. The Parisis have emphasized previously that, in that sense, their businesses also boost other aspects of the local economy. Tarr has also previously praised the Gloucester business as an economic “good neighbor.”

A spokesman for the Attorney General’s Office declined to comment Friday, saying the matter was still under investigation.

Investigators returned their search warrant with a summary of search and investigation details in late June. The warrant application contains details of undercover visits by troopers, who made their first visit to the Danvers arcade in January.

Based on what they found, FBI forensic examiner Deneen 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 reportedly suggested by some Lucky 7 employees to undercover officers.

“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 Cuevas, an investigator in the case.

But even if the games did involve skill, investigators suggested, they would still be illegal under another provision of the state gaming law that prohibits the use of such machines for games that provide cash, merchandise or other items of value.

With the new law, towns and cities lost the authority to license machines such as those that were operated at Lucky 7.

In a letter to the city, the Parisi family has also questioned the city about the $100 per machine fee that the family paid to the city for permitting in 2011 and again in 2012. Technically in those two years, the city was not authorized to permit the machines.

City legal counsel Suzanne Egan did not return calls for comment Friday.

Marjorie Nesin can be reached at 978-283-7000, x3451, or at mnesin@gloucestertimes.com
 
 

GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

June 25, 2013

Documents detail Lucky 7 findings

No charges yet filed against owners in wake of shutdown

By Julie Manganis
Staff Writer

---- — The owners of the Lucky 7 arcades on Rogers Street in Gloucester and inside the Liberty Tree Mall in Danvers 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 to local businesses.

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 in connection with raids that shut down both arcades two weeks ago today.

The affidavit, filed in support of search warrants for the two businesses owned by the Parisi family of Gloucester, 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 Times and the Salem News.

So far, no charges have been filed against owners Sam and Rosalie Parisi of Gloucester, and Brad Puffer, a spokesman for the AG, said he could not comment on the status of the investigation at this point.

But 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 that 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 Cuevas, an investigator in the case.

But even if the games did involve skill, investigators suggested, they would still be illegal under another provision of the state gaming law that prohibits the use of such machines for games that provide cash, merchandise or other items of value.

According to the search warrant “return,” a list of items seized included more than $5,000 in cash, a gaming machine, computers and an external hard drive, numerous circuit boards for the machines, receipts, a credit card reader, and financial documents.

They also seized four gift cards, which had been used as “prizes” for winners.

Cuevas, the lead investigator in the case, and another trooper, Sgt. Steve Fennessy, conducted undercover surveillance a the Danvers arcade for the first time on Jan. 30.

Cuevas went into the business and noticed about 40 computer terminals along the walls of the room.

In the center was a customer service station, where two employees were working.

“How can I play the games?” Cuevas asked. The male asked him to fill out a card with information but did not ask for any identification. Cuevas, using a fake identity, filled out the card, and was given a white “access card” that had a computer chip on it.

For $20, the trooper was given 2500 points (it was a Wednesday, so he received a “bonus” 500 points, he noted).

The games at each kiosk had eight columns with things like fruits, numbers or other objects, the trooper noted.

The troopers noted that the manufacturers of the games were names that were familiar to gaming regulators, and that the same types of machines were used in casinos.

Players would have to accumulate at least 2,500 points from winning games on the machines to collect any “prizes,” which were gift cards to nearby businesses. While there, Cuevas noted that none of the 15 people playing at 6:30 p.m. had cashed in for any prizes while he was there.

The following month, the investigators conducted a similar visit to the Gloucester arcade.

On the afternoon of May 8, the investigators were back in Danvers, where two troopers entered separately, as if to play the games.

One trooper asked the employees how to play the games and “How is this legit?”

An employee told him that it was fine because the games were “games of skill” and the winnings were not paid in cash.

“Does anyone ever win?” the trooper asked. He was told that someone had “recently” won $1,200.

The trooper also spoke to a woman playing one of the games, who said she had won $190. “You’re not going to get rich but it’s a way to pass the time,” she told the trooper, according to the affidavit.

As Cuevas played a game on one machine, the other trooper returned to the employee and again asked how the games were not considered gambling. The employee said he pays out at least $1,000 a week to players, all in gift cards.

The troopers then headed to Gloucester and used the machines there the same day.

The troopers were allowed to “wager” anywhere from 10 to 250 points per play, the equivalent of 10 cents to $2.50.

The troopers then discussed their findings with Hernandez, who has worked for the FBI for the past decade; prior to that, she worked for the National Indian Gaming Commission and the New York State Racing and Wagering Board.

The search warrant was issued by Suffolk Superior Court Judge Carol Ball on the day of the raids.

Courts reporter Julie Manganis can be reached at 978-338-2521, via email at jmanganis@salemnews.com or on Twitter @SNJulieManganis.

 

GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

June 13, 2013

Lucky 7 raid drawing questions

By Ethan Forman
Staff Writer

---- — A day after state and local police shut down the Lucky 7 Arcades in both Gloucester and at Danvers’ Liberty Tree Mall, authorities were still not citing any specific wrongdoing, and had still not filed any charges as of Wednesday.

But a number of customers of the older Gloucester arcade called the Times Wednesday to voice their support for a business that has earned praise in the past from Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr as an “outstanding corporate citizen.”

A woman’s voice on the answering machine at the number of the Gloucester location Wednesday was the same as the previous afternoon: “We will be closed until further notice, sorry for the inconvenience,” she said.

In Danvers, town officials were wondering anew whether the casino-like arcade was legal. Its owner, Rosalie Parisi, who runs the business with her husband Sam and their daughter, Janine, as manager of the Gloucester outlet, have long maintained that Lucky 7 simply offers arcade games for adults, with prizes such as gift certificates to restaurants and other local businesses.

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

While the reasons for state shutting down Lucky 7 Arcade was not known, part of the reasoning may depend on whether the slot machine devices require skill, like an amusement game, or depend on chance or a sweepstakes to pay off. A lot may also depend on the state’s 2011 gaming law as it relates to slot machines, as 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 Cafe law. This law was aimed at cracking 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.

To find out more about the Lucky 7 Arcade, the town asked the business to explain if its machines were in compliance with the Cyber Cafe law. A detective even paid a visit to the establishment in October.

The town and the state Division of Standards had both licensed the machines being used by Lucky 7 as amusement machines, according to Danvers town records. Trask said the town’s approval was not a legal review of the machines, “it’s more of a weights and measures function,” Trask said. Town boards approved the business as an amusement arcade.

After Trask asked about Lucky 7 Arcade and its relation to the Cyber Cafe law, Town Manager Wayne Marquis and others had discussions with Police Chief Neil Ouellette and Town Counsel, and the town made a couple of calls to the Attorney General’s office. The town’s own inquiry into Lucky 7 Arcade had not been completed by the time the Attorney General Office acted earlier this week, Marquis said.

However, the town did receive a lengthy response to its inquiry from Rosalie Parisi; it read, in part: “I believe Lucky 7 Arcade is fully compliant with both the spirit and letter of the law.”

”Similar to carnival games and family entertainment centers like Chuck E. Cheese’s and Dave and Buster’s,” Parisi said in her Oct. 4, 2012 letter, “we allow our customers a chance to test their skills in pursuit of winning prizes. Unlike the cyber cafes where the clients walk away with wads of cash, our customers can redeem their points for prizes and gift certificates.”

The town’s questioning of Lucky 7 Arcade drew a strong letter of support for the Parisis from Sen. Tarr who, in an Oct. 5, 2012 letter, stated “I believe Lucky 7 Arcade is fully compliant with both the spirit and the letter of the law.”

Tarr said in his letter the Cyber Cafe law was meant to crack down on “unscrupulous store owners who claimed to sell Internet time but actually operated casino style gaming in violation of Massachusetts consumer protection laws ... Lucky 7 Arcade ... is the antithesis of such an operation, and I am proud to have her business operating in the district I represent.”

He called the business, which has operated in Gloucester since 2006, then opened its Liberty Tree outlet last year “a bedrock of the Gloucester business community and an outstanding corporate citizen.” It not only employs people during tough times, Tarr said in his letter, but its prizes of gift certificates to local restaurants helps boost the local economy.

A call to Tarr’s office yesterday afternoon was not returned as of press time.

The Attorney General’s office has moved aggressively to crack down on cyber cafes it says are fronting as illegal gambling establishments.

On June 7, the AG’s office announced an owner of an Internet Cafe in Chicopee had pleaded guilty to charges of running an illegal slot parlor, and the corporation, Cafeno’s Inc., in addition pleading guilty to the same charges, also pleaded guilty falsifying state tax returns. The guilty pleas were met with stiff fines and two years probation.

While there is some question about whether the Cyber Cafe law applies to the amusement devices and operations of the Lucky 7, given there appears to be no sweepstakes involved, the state’s 2011 gaming act did tighten rules on operating gaming devices.

The gaming act defined what a slot machine is, and defined them as being a game of chance or skill or both. It also outlawed anyone from operating gaming device without a license.

Parisi applauded the cyber cafe law as “a necessary safeguard against unscrupulous business owners.” Her argument was that Lucky 7’s games depend on skill, not chance or a sweepstakes, and so comply with state law governing automatic amusement devices, such as pinball machines.

But skill may not be the issue. While the law refers to machines that depend “in whole or in part, the skill of the player,” such as pinball machines, the law was also tightened in 2011 with the coming of the state’s gaming act to so that the definition of amusement devices expressly does not include slot machines.

The state law Parisi cites also forbids amusement devices being used for gambling.

Ethan Forman can be reached at eforman@gloucestertimes.com.

 
Both locations are closed until further notice. We are working hard to resolve this issue. If you would like to help us in, VOICE YOUR CONCERN TO THE MA ATTORNEY GENERALS OFFICE.   ago@state.ma.us  Sorry for any inconvenience. And thank you for your patronage, we miss you all!
 
 
"Where the Fun Keeps on Spinning"

 

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Lucky 7 Arcade is an arcade with 8-liner video games that mimic slot machines, in a Vegas atmosphere. A place where adults (21 & over) can meet and socialize while playing video games.  Our skill games are fun and challenging and offer hours of entertainment. Try your skill with our Crane Machine and win prizes and gift certificates to local merchants. Beverages and snacks are available for purchase.  Air conditioned and handicap accessible with an ATM on site.

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Winners can choose from a variety of Prizes & Gift Certificates

WEDNESDAY -FREE $5 MATCH PLAY ALL DAY
(1 PER CUSTOMER, PER DAY) 

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CRANE GAME FILLED WITH GIFT CERTIFICATES

Gloucester Location:
 2 Rogers Street
Gloucester, MA  01930

 
Hours:
CLOSED

Danvers Location
100 Independence Way
Danvers, MA 01923

 
Hours:
CLOSED

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www.facebook.com/lucky7arcade