Internet cafe owners in the state of Massachusetts are running scared, the Attorney General has warned them that she is stepping up efforts to eradicate illegal online casinos in United States, or what residents of the state call cyber cafes with “sweepstakes style” gaming.
Only last week Steven Sheldon and his business partner Steven Megliola, operators of a Westfield cyber cafe, became the latest in a long list of individuals indicted on illegal gambling charges in Massachusetts. Their internet business is now shut down after a law enforcement action back in March.
Massachusetts Attorney General, Martha Coakley, told United States gambling news: ”This cyber cafe was nothing more than an illegal, unregulated slot parlor with no protections for consumers. We allege that these defendants operated a gambling facility in direct violation of existing Massachusetts law.”
Sheldon also faces charges for allowing lotteries in a building, as well as selling and advertising lottery tickets, without a necessary license under American gambling laws.
These recent indictments are following similar charges against the owners of two other cyber cafes in Fall River and Fairhaven earlier this year (read more in Elderly City Councilor Charged With Running an Online Gambling Empire).
One of these cases made sure that the cost was especially high for the defendant. Leo Pelletier couldn’t continue his bid for re-election as a city councilor, and went on to blame the prosecution for his defeat and the following loss of his cyber cafe business.
In a special press release, Attorney General Coakley’s representatives commented that they are carrying out “active and ongoing” investigations into online cafes across the state. “We are doing this one-by-one. Each one is a question of fact,” Coakley was quoted by the media.
In the meantime, several high-ranked politicians have become involved in the case, with Rep. Cheryl A. Coakley-Rivera, a Springfield Democrat, presenting a bill to specifically ban internet cafes, which offer gambling activities.
Coakley-Rivera hopes that the ban will be approved, taking into account that the state legislators are close to final approval of another bill, which will authorize three land-based casino resorts in Massachusetts.