Raids on internet cafes have been happening across the US for years now. Police execute these elaborate raids on the basis that they are under suspicion for being illegal gambling operations. There’s only one problem, no one seems to be able to decisively say exactly whether internet cafes and sweepstakes games are illegal gambling or not.
Despite this, the raids continue. The most recent raid on an internet cafe that has made headlines took place in Fairhaven MA, where state police raided Leo’s Place and other internet cafes owned by City Councillor Leo Pelletier.
At Leo’s Place, customers buy time online and play video sweepstakes games for cash prizes. Sounds fairly harmless, but not according to the state Attorney General’s Office .
In an article in South Coast Today, Harry Pierre, a spokesman for Attorney General Martha Coakley, said Coakley’s office has launched an investigation into “the facilitation of possible illegal gaming at facilities that claim to be Internet cafes…Today’s actions are part of that investigation into the legality of three of these alleged gaming establishments located in Bristol and Hampden counties,” Pierre said.
How do you investigate the legality of something when it is not clearly defined? How do you get a warrant to conduct raids when it is questionable whether illegal activity is taking place? And who is complaining to the Attorney General Office about internet cafes and sweepstakes? So many questions, so few answers.
Leo Pelletier isn’t even taking the time to ask these questions, he’s going to let the courts handle this one. Pelletier said in a statement in a South Coast Today publication, “I will be closed until we go to court and get a determination.”
Pelletier added, “We’ve been in this business for seven months and no incidents until today…It’s just a matter of clearing up the question: Is it or is it not illegal gambling? I want to get to the bottom of this for everyone, not just me, and move on. Let’s put it to sleep…I’m not bitter. They’re just doing their job.”
Pelletier is a better man than most, because I would be hopping mad if they shut my business down when no one could show me exactly which law I was breaking.