Internet Café Owners, Corporation Plead Guilty, Ordered to Forfeit More Than $120,000 for Operating an Illegal Slot Parlor
“B&B Cyber Café" Operated in Revere
BOSTON - The owners of an Internet café in Revere, along with their corporation, have pleaded guilty and been ordered to forfeit more than $120,000 for operating an illegal slot parlor, Attorney General Martha Coakley announced today.
Robert Kelley, age 48, of Revere, and Brian Symmes, age 27, of Winthrop, pleaded guilty today in Suffolk Superior Court to one count each of the following charges: unlawful operation of a game or gaming device, organizing or promoting a lottery, operating an illegal lottery, allowing lotteries in a building, and the sale of lottery tickets.
Kelley and Symmes operated “B&B Cyber Café” (B&B) in Revere through their corporation, Lucky Day Cyber Café, LLC. The corporation pleaded guilty to the same charges.
After the plea was entered, Suffolk Superior Court Judge Judith Fabricant sentenced each defendant to serve two years of probation and ordered that they forfeit more than $23,000 in cash seized during the investigation and forfeit an additional $100,000 to the Commonwealth.
Under Massachusetts law, it is illegal to run or promote a gambling operation. The current gambling law in this case points to the existence of an illegal “lottery.” The definition of a lottery includes a payment to play, a prize, and some element of chance.
In February 2012, the Attorney General’s Office began an investigation into the operation of B&B. Investigation revealed that patrons of this Internet café were paying nearly exclusively for the right to gamble. The patrons were not, as advertised, simply paying for Internet time and playing a free sweepstakes. Also, the “no purchase required” opportunities were of no legal significance and gambling was the only clear purpose for this café.
B&B ceased operation in the wake of the AG’s investigation.
A Suffolk County Grand Jury indicted Kelley, Symmes, and their corporation on May 6, 2013.
In June 2011, the AG’s office issued permanent civil regulations under the Massachusetts Consumer Protection Act. The Act bans the operation of so called “cyber cafés” and similar establishments across the Commonwealth. Those that violate the law may be subject to injunctions, criminal charges, civil penalties and other relief under the Consumer Protection Act.
Additionally, in August 2012, Governor Deval Patrick signed into law legislation that further enhances the criminal penalties for illegal gambling at “cyber cafés” throughout Massachusetts. The new law has gone into effect and establishes a new crime for conducting or promoting an unauthorized sweepstakes that is executed through the use of the entertaining display of an electronic machine. The new crime carries a penalty of up to $250,000 per offending machine and/or imprisonment of up to 15 years in state prison.
In June 2013, a Chicopee cyber cafe owner and his corporation pleaded guilty to charges of operating an illegal slot parlor and were ordered to forfeit more than $250,000 in assets. In August 2012, two individuals and their corporation pleaded guilty to gaming charges in connection with operations out of Internet cafés in Fall River and Fairhaven and were ordered to forfeit more than $100,000 in assets.
The case was prosecuted by Assistant Attorneys General Thomas Ralph and Timothy Wyse of the AG’s Cyber Crime Division, and Assistant Attorney General Pat Hanley, Chief of the AG’s Gaming Enforcement Division. The investigation was conducted by State Police assigned to the AG’s Office, Senior Investigator Mark Pulli, Financial Investigator Anthony Taylor, the AG’s Computer Forensic Laboratory, and Department of Revenue Investigator Thomas Nowicki.
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