GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA March 25,
Lucky 7 to fight charges from AG
---- — 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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.