Gaming rooms remain open, despite more arrests

The Honolulu Police Dept. arrested another man Tuesday morning in connection with one of Hawaii’s largest gambling crackdowns.

Mike Madali was taken into custody for 17 counts of gambling offenses — the latest in a string of arrests by HPD and city prosecutors as they crack down on sweepstakes machines.

In all, nine people have been indicted. Four will appear in court Thursday morning.

Despite the arrests, the doors remained open Tuesday at several gaming rooms around town, including Prize World in Aiea Shopping Center.

On this day, the attraction appeared to be the Fish Hunter machine. People pay to play with the object apparently being to take out fish with cannon fire. The more fish you take out, the more points you earn with cash as a reward.

One week ago Tuesday, police raided the establishment and confiscated the so-called sweepstakes machines. The next day, a federal judge ruled that the machines are gambling devices.

The ruling triggered a 414-count indictment of nine suspects and authorities say there may be more.

Mike Madali
Mike Madali

According to the city prosecutor, the recent federal court ruling only applies to a particular machine, and not to the machines currently in operation. KHON2 asked the prosecutor’s office whether any other machines will be targeted. Authorities say the investigation is continuing and that police and prosecutors will bring cases if and when they determine that a machine is a gambling device.

Attorney Thomas Otake represents Eugene Simeona, Prize World’s former owner who currently owns Lucky Touch Two at Stadium Mall, another arcade that remains open. “We are exploring a variety of legal options and one is having a consultant to determine whether these (machines that are still working) are illegal,” he said.

Police and the city prosecutor were able to win the indictment after a three-year investigation. They say the investigation continues and could target customers as well.

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