The owner of a proposed laundromat has been denied an entertainment license for an electronic gaming device that the Bourne Police Department said was outlawed by the state.
Steven Corey plans to open a laundromat at 170 Clay Pond Road, in the same mall as Pizza by Evan and Spirits ‘n More. Mr. Corey addressed the Bourne Board of Selectmen during its meeting on February 2.
The license was for a coin-operated machine that pays quarters to game winners. Bourne Police Lieutenant Brandon M. Esip said his research showed that the state Attorney General’s Office had classified that type of machine as an illegal gaming device.
Lt. Esip said there had been four attempts to legalize the machines over the past 10 years. Each bill brought before the state Senate, he said, failed to move forward.
“As of right now, it is an illegal gaming device,” Lt. Esip said. “I don’t see how this could move forward.”
Mr. Corey argued that the machine was a game of skill as opposed to chance. He said he owns several other laundromats in other towns, notably Middleboro. He said the selectmen there had no problem with the machine.
“I didn’t expect any kind of pushback on it,” Mr. Corey said. “I haven’t been able to find anything that says it’s an illegal game. It’s like a claw machine or anything else. You put money in, it’s a game of skill, and if you win something, you win something. If you don’t, you don’t.”
Barbara J. Princiotta of Buzzards Bay asked how Mr. Corey planned to combat underage gambling, with teenagers going into the laundromat to play the game. Mr. Corey said he has never had a problem with underage gambling in any of his other establishments.
He reiterated that the machine is not a game of chance but a game of skill, and quarters are not the only payoff.
“We also have gift cards, handmade jewelry, Red Sox buttons,” he said. “It’s strictly amusement; it’s not like a lottery; you don’t take a chance.”
Mr. Corey argued that, even a claw vending machine provides a prize that has value, so that could be seen as gambling. That said, he assured the board he is not trying to encourage gambling among young people.
Selectman George G. Slade added his concern that the machine could entice young people in the area to gamble. Mr. Slade said the business’s location is near Harmony Hill Apartments, and youngsters living there do not have a lot of options for how to spend their idle time.
The same sentiment was expressed by Selectman Jared P. MacDonald. Putting money in to get money back out, Mr. MacDonald said, constituted gambling. He added that the selectmen’s job is to look at the fact of the matter, which is that the attorney general’s office has deemed the machine illegal.
“I think this is something that we don’t necessarily need,” he said. “The business can open without it. I say we move on without it.”
Mr. MacDonald made a motion to deny the Mr. Corey’s license request. Selectman Peter J. Meier suggested a continuance over a denial, since Mr. Corey agreed to work with Lt. Esip on a more appropriate device for the laundromat.
Board members felt that a denial was needed to make it clear that this specific machine is not allowed in the Town of Bourne. Once a new machine has been selected, the board agreed, Mr. Corey can reapply for the entertainment license.
The board voted unanimously in favor of Mr. MacDonald’s motion to deny Mr. Corey’s request.