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Brooklyn Council members battle illegal gambling

Council Members Lewis A. Fidler (left) and Jumaane D. Williams (right) show advertisements for Players Club Internet Sweepstakes Cafe and Monopoly Cafe. Photo courtesy of NY City Council

Brooklyn Daily Eagle

New York City Council Members Jumaane D. Williams (D-Flatbush) and Lewis A. Fidler (D-Southeast Brooklyn) have set forth to combat illegal gambling in New York City, in general and Brooklyn specifically. They have proposed legislation that would revoke the license of arcades and gaming cafes where the owner permits unlawful gambling activity on their premises.

During a hearing of the Committee on Consumer Affairs, Fidler and Williams challenged representatives from the Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) on their lack of enforcement over Internet sweepstakes cafes and other establishments that give away chances to win cash and other prizes. The proposed legislation, Intro 1035, is intended to provide the DCA with enforcement tools to combat illegal gambling.

"Unlawful gaming activity is detrimental to our local community, and Intro 1035 will help to establish our position against the promotion of such vice," said Williams.  “DCA has a responsibility to enforce this law.”  

Fidler added that “though we believe DCA already has some tools to regulate these establishments, we want to give them both a stronger hand and the motivation to address the problem effectively and now."

Fidler and Williams began noticing a number of locations in their respective Brooklyn districts that they said were catering to illegal gaming. "These gambling locations are popping up throughout our communities and operating as if their activities were legal," said Fidler. The two councilmen named establishments such as Lucky Spot NYC and Reels of Fortune on Flatbush Avenue, as well as Monopoly Café on 86th Street in Bensonhurst, as places where, they claim, illegal gambling goes on.

"I am now and have all ways been a strong, outspoken advocate for small business and economic development. However, it is equally important that businesses respect the boundaries and parameters of the law,” said Williams

Fidler and Williams are gaining support for Intro 1035. In addition to the prime co-sponsorships of Council Members Williams and Fidler, Intro 1035 is currently sponsored by Council Members Leroy G. Comrie, Jr. (D-Jamaica), James F. Gennaro (D-Fresh Meadows), Vincent J. Gentile (D-Brooklyn), David G. Greenfield (D-Brooklyn), Andy King (D-The Bronx), Peter A. Koo (D-Flushing), Brad S. Lander (D-Brooklyn), Annabel  Palma (D-The Bronx) and Deborah L. Rose (D-North Shore).

Fran Freedman, deputy commissioner of external affairs at DCA, said at the hearing that the agency is supportive of this legislation

"It appears that the city has made enforcement of gambling at Internet sweepstakes cafes a surprisingly low priority, and that needs to change," said Council Member Dan Garodnick (D-Manhattan), chair of the Consumer Affairs Committee. "I applaud Council Members Williams and Fidler for raising this issue and for trying to establish a method of enforcement that works."   

April 22, 2013 - 8:30am


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