The Massachusetts Lottery Commission has reinstated operating licenses for seven of the 11 bars or clubs that were suspended last month after poker slot machines were confiscated May 3 in state police raids.
In all, 38 poker video slot machines were seized by state police, along with $10,000 in cash, in the coordinated raids on 15 bars or clubs here, in Springfield and Chicopee. Although no criminal charges have been filed, the Lottery Commission quickly issued the suspensions.
Lottery spokeswoman Beth A. Bresnahan said Tuesday that letters have been mailed out to the affected establishments and that all lottery services will soon be up and running.
Bresnahan said all but one of the 11 establishments have filed appeals and met with lottery officials, and that that all 11 could be reinstated soon.
She said the reinstated clubs and bars have signed agreements that impose several conditions:
- Probation for one year.
- A ban on all on-site video slot machines on the premises, including those with dual meters, which police say calculate illegal payouts.
- No illegal gambling on premises.
- Any violation of the agreement "will result in the immediate revocation of their (lottery) licenses."
"We take these matters seriously," said Bresnahan.
The reinstated establishments are: Pal Joey's, JP's Restaurant and the Sandcastle Lounge in Holyoke; the Moose Family Center and Dr. Deegan's Restaurant in Chicopee; the Solmar Restaurant and Catering in Indian Orchard and the Main Street Cafe in Springfield.
The other four establishments still under Lottery Commission suspension are the Ale House in Springfield, and three Chicopee establishments: Lacroix's Market, the Say When Cafe and the Royal Cafe.
Hampden County District Attorney William M. Bennett was contacted for comment Tuesday, but has not responded.
Aaron W. Wilson, the lawyer for JP's Restaurant here, said Tuesday his clients signed a "letter of intent" with the district attorney to ban video slot machines. Other details of those agreements were not available.
State police have said the poker slot machines often earn proprietors $1,000 or more a week in profits. Several establishments, such as JP's and the Sandcastle, had four poker slot machines; the Moose Family Center had seven.
Lottery agents receive 5 percent of all sales, including Keno, and earn 1 percent of all winnings. In 2005, Lottery Commission records show, JP's recorded $574,000 in sales and $28,700 in commissions; the Moose Family Center registered $713,000 in sales and more than $35,000 in commissions.
"It hurt," Wilson said. He said the lottery license suspension was "very unfair," especially in the absence of criminal actions.
And lawyer Thomas G. Griffin, who represents the Moose Family Center, said Tuesday the suspensions "hurt them financially."
Griffin said the club owners, who also signed an agreement with the lottery, will resume lottery operations shortly, including Beano. He said lottery proceeds are used to fund a variety of charitable contributions, from youth soccer to the public library.