January 8, 2014
In October, 2013 the Westbank Major Crime Task Force, Gretna Police Department and the Louisiana State Police initiated an investigation into illegal gambling activity at the Lucky Times Café located at 64 Westbank Expressway, Gretna Louisiana.
The investigation revealed that Lucky Times Café, when licensed, represented itself as a rental of computer time for patrons, a copy and fax service along with a printing service. The investigation further revealed that over one hundred (100) terminals were actually being utilized as independent gaming stations allowing internet access to games such as blackjack, slot machines, roulette and video poker.
During the course of an undercover investigation, investigators would enter the establishment, purchase credits that would be transferred to a personal player’s card with a personalized pin number access and password. Investigators would then go to a terminal, swipe the players’ card and receive point play for the various games accessible on the terminal. The games would utilize credits based upon the wager of the investigator and would record win crediting the investigator based upon the outcome of the game. Investigators worked undercover in the establishment approximately two and a half months. During this time it was also discovered that the players cards and password could be utilized from computer terminals offsite resulting in the ability to conduct internet gaming.
The theory that the violators utilize to justify this activity as being legal is that it is a sweepstakes game and not gambling. The investigation proves that the operation of the establishment is in violation of Louisiana State Law relative to 90.3 Gambling by Computer.
In recent years, thousands of “Internet sweepstakes cafes” have sprung up in storefronts and convenience stores in more than a dozen states. Carefully designed to take advantage of state sweepstakes laws and to avoid state antigambling laws and gambling licensing restrictions, Internet sweepstakes cafes are estimated to earn more than ten billion a year with games that closely mimic the experience of traditional slot and video poker machines.
According to the cafes that are reaping unregulated profits, this elaborate masquerade is not gambling, but a sweepstakes. According to every appellate court that has decided a case involving similar games, it is incontestably gambling.
This particular location advertises Las Vegas gambling on its door front, no person under twenty-one admitted along with no fax and copy services. This establishment in essence has skirted all gambling licensing requirements and regulations as well as appropriate tax reporting mechanism in place for gaming entities.
The license owners are Marshall H. Isso, W/M, DOB: 06/21/1963, Jason J. Tomas, W/M DOB: 04/14/1978 and Manuel F. Villagran, W/M, DOB: 01/22/1965, all from the Detroit/Michigan area.
Anthony H. Christiana Jr.
Deputy Chief of Police