Connecticut lawmaker targets illegal gambling parlors

Meriden (AP) — A Connecticut lawmaker is seeking to shut illegal gambling parlors.

Sen. Danté Bartolomeo, D-Meriden, has scheduled a news conference for Friday morning outside Meriden police headquarters to announce plans to close illegal gambling parlors in Bloomfield, East Windsor, Enfield and other communities.

Mary Drexler, executive director of the Connecticut Council on Problem Gambling, said the gambling parlors are becoming a problem in the state. They're promoted as Internet cafes, providing online access, she said.

But the parlors target senior citizens, enticing them to gamble online, she said.

The parlors typically offer so-called "phone card sweepstakes" with players paying for a swipe card to play video slots and redeem points for cash, Drexler said.

"But most people play until their money is exhausted," she said. "There are no consumer protections, no guarantees of payouts."

The parlors are an issue in other states. The North Carolina Supreme Court upheld a state law banning sweepstakes cafes, but some of the places where people play fast-moving computer games that mimic Vegas-style slots are still open.

The sweepstakes cafes have been shut by police and their owners and employees charged with violating the law. But some of those arrested have been acquitted of criminal charges.

In Ohio last year, a company was fined on charges of attempted racketeering and gambling. The company provided computers and software to places advertised as Internet cafes, although the state attorney general said the business and its employees illegally marketed the games under state law.

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