Western Massachusetts "Internet Cafe" Feels the Heat of State Probe
Massachusetts attorney General Martha Coakley announced today that a preliminary injunction had been issued that requires the owner of a Chicopee Internet cafe to preserve documents related to what Coakley calls "illegal gambling games."
The Express Internet Center is the latest of several Massachusetts internet cafes Coakley has targeted for prosecution for allegedly running illegal sweepstakes she says amount to unsanctioned slot machine gambling. But Anthony Ardolino, the owner of the Express Internet Center, says the sweepstakes offered at his cafe are legitimate -- and that as with other promotional sweepstakes, customers don't have to make a purchase to play.
"We give away a free entry to our promotional game at a greater level than McDonalds. We have a national lawyer who monitors that. It's indicated that our sweepstakes meets Federal law. We have Massachusetts attorneys that also monitor our activities -- and have issued a sixty page opinion letter that our sweepstakes is in compliance with Massachusetts law."
Coakley could not be reached for immediate comment. But in a press release, she says that when the cafe's patrons buy internet time, they also earn points used to play gambling games. They can win more points, which then can be redeemed for cash. Coakley calls that a "ruse" designed to skirt state gambling laws.