The owners of the Lucky 7 Arcade at the Liberty Tree Mall and who run another location in Gloucester say they've actually been praised for being one of the few operations that follows all the rules, but apparently the state Attorney General's office doesn't agree.
The two arcades were shut down earlier this week by local police amidst an investigation into allegations of illegal gaming, although police and the AG's office have declined to comment on what exactly the allegations are while the investigation is ongoing.
Janine Parisi, who runs the Gloucester arcade, told the Gloucester Times the investigation was in regard to illegal online gambling. Rosalie and Sam Parisi, who operate the Danvers location, deny any wrongdoing and told town officials they believe they are fully compliant with the law, reports the Salem News.
The owners, in fact, have posted a message on their website, urging patrons and supporters to contact the Attorney General's office.
"Both locations are closed until further notice. We are working hard to resolve this issue. If you would like to help us...VOICE YOUR CONCERN TO THE MA ATTORNEY GENERAL'S OFFICE. Sorry for any inconvenience. And thank you for your patronage, we miss you all!" reads the message.
Danvers town officials told the Salem News they initiated a review last year into whether the coin-operated arcade machines and other similar devices licensed in town were in fact legal under the state's 2012 cyber cafe law.
The law deals with Internet cafes allowing customers to purchase Internet time, not to surf the Web but really to gamble online. The AG's office has cracked down on those operations in recent years, including shuttering a cyber cafe in Peabody several months ago.
But according to the Salem News, the legality of the Lucky 7 operation may also hinge upon whether the gaming machines are truly "amusement devices" requiring a measure of skill or in fact "slot machines" based on pure luck and a sweepstakes for winnings. That's a differentiation the 2011 state gambling law sought to make.
A coin-operated pinball machine, for example, is not considered a slot machine under the law. The Parisi family says patrons of their arcades do not win cash prizes, . They say there are video games that "mimic" slot machines.
Gloucester state Sen. Bruce Tarr has even vouched for the family operation, saying he believes Lucky 7 follows the "spirit and letter of the law." The Danvers arcade opened last summer.
Town Manager Wayne Marquis said selectmen may receive a general update on the situation for their meeting Tuesday night.