I-Team: Coakley Shuts Down Mini-Casinos

By Joe Shortsleeve, WBZ-TV I-Team

BOSTON (CBS) – It’s a bust for mini casinos — popping up across the state. Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley issued an emergency order shutting them down.

It’s a story the I-Team broke, Chief Correspondent Joe Shortsleeve says, the AG says these businesses are breaking the law.

WBZ-TV’s Joe Shortsleeve reports.

A few weeks ago, the I-Team told you about these businesses, a growing trend across the country. They say they are selling Internet time, but it is very clear it is all about the gambling. And today the Attorney General put a stop to it.

Attorney General Coakley “citing evidence of illegal gambling and the lack of consumer protections” slammed on the door on at least seven mini casinos operating in Massachusetts.

Take a look inside this mini casino off Route One at Bell Circle in Revere and you would think that you were at Foxwoods.

WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Lana Jones reports.

And there is also one on Route One Lynnfield. It is jammed at all hours of the day with people playing video slots and poker.

We talked to a few players several weeks ago. Most said it was gambling and that they were having fun.

However, Martha Coakley says they are breaking the law.

These operations say they are selling Internet time and the gambling games are just an added feature. But the I-Team found that gambling is the only reason people are there.

The owner of the Lynnfield location, Anthony Sabia, told us in March he is operating using the state law that governs sweepstakes.

Sabia says it is free to play a few rounds so “it is like McDonalds and the Monopoly game.”

Coakley says the sweepstakes law does not apply to these operations.

The Attorney General says she is working with the Speaker of the House to craft legislation that will make sure these places stayed closed. State officials are very concerned about competition to the state lottery, which could mean less money for cities and towns. State police from the Attorney Generals office raided at least four mini casinos last week and confiscated several computers.


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