Hordes of State Police investigators conducted a sudden raid on the B&B Cyber Café – otherwise known as a loophole casino – Tuesday afternoon in what became a startling scene within the Mahoney Circle strip mall.
Just after 1 p.m. on Tuesday, State Police and investigators stormed into the establishment and demanded everyone stop what they were doing, according to customers who were inside the café.
“They told us to put down our cards and don’t touch the machines anymore,” said one woman in the parking lot following the raid. “I had three free spins and I wanted to use them, but they wouldn’t let us touch the machines. They asked us a few questions and if we’d lost any money. Then we had to leave and come out here…We didn’t get any of our money back or our winnings.”
The cyber café operates under a loophole in the law that allows gaming through a sweepstakes – much like the phone card machine that inundate the City. Participants can legally purchase time on the computer at B&B and then they are able to play a sweepstakes for money. While many attempts have been made by state government to shut down such operations, nothing has stuck yet and the practice appears to be legal.
Only a raid on a similar cyber café in the South Shore by the state Attorney General’s Office has stuck, and apparently that comes from legislation recently passed at the behest of House Speaker Bob DeLeo.
However, to everyone’s amazement, nothing had ever happened to the Revere café – despite many months of conjecture after the South Shore raid.
A spokesperson for the AG’s Office told the Journal in January that they could neither confirm nor deny any investigation concerning B&B.
On Tuesday afternoon, despite the obvious activity, a spokesman from the AG’s Office said exactly the same thing.
“It is our office policy not to confirm or deny investigations,” reiterated the spokesman.
Nevertheless, sources told the Journal that the investigation was indeed being conducted by State Police who were assigned to the AG’s Office, and the raid was part of a sting on Internet gaming.
On Tuesday, customers gathered in the parking lot after being questioned by State Police.
Nearly 50 people had gathered outside – most of them elderly women and some middle-aged men. A good many of them were angry, having lost their winnings for the day. Others were indifferent, but a little disturbed by having been questioned.
“I told them I didn’t have to answer any questions if I didn’t want to,” said one elderly woman outside.
“I told them I had been kicked out of better places than this,” added another woman with a laugh.
State Police and some local Revere Police investigators did not address the media or the crowd.
Inside, investigators appeared to be examining the computers and taking pictures.
At one point, B&B owner Bob Kelley came out from the premises and addressed the crowd outside.
He apologized to the customers and told them that no one was being arrested and he was prepared to fight it.
“We’re very sorry this happened to you all,” he said repeatedly. “We have our lawyers and we’re going to fight this. We’re not done.”