City prosecutor broadens gambling crackdown, more machines targeted

Authorities have broadened the scope of their gambling crackdown.

Cease-and-desist letters were delivered to roughly 70 businesses Monday, including Tilt Arcade and Razor Concepts in Pearlridge Center, for machines that are considered gambling devices under Hawaii law.

Both places immediately shut down the specified machines once they received the letters.

Related Link: HRS 712-1226 Possession of a gambling device

A letter was also delivered to Prize World Monday. Owner Tracy Yoshimura told KHON2 that with the machines shut down, he is no longer in business.

The letter specified roughly two dozen machines and placed them into various categories, from coin pushers to casino and pull tab games. Some involve a pay-to-play operation with a cash prize, like Fish Hunter, while others involve discount coupon kiosk games, like Product Direct Sweepstakes.

The letter states: “Please be advised that the Office of the Prosecuting Attorney and the Honolulu Police Department are aware of allegations that your business has been operating in violation of Hawaii’s anti-gambling statutes. You are to immediately cease and desist all gambling activity including but not limited to the operation of the following games and devices:

  • Discount Coupon Kiosk type devices to include, but not limited to: Product Direct Sweepstakes, Panikka Promotion Coupon Kiosk
  • “Fish” Hunter type devices to include, but not limited to: Fish Hunter, Fish Hunter II, Fish Hunter Plus, Ocean King, Ocean King II, Ocean Star, King of Treasures, Shark King
  • Multi-Slot type devices to include, but not limited to: Island Fruit, Crazy Fruit, Crazy Bugs
  • Multi-Casino Style Game type devices to include, but not limited to: Pot O Gold, Platinum Touch (all versions), Southern Gold, Internet and Server Based Sweepstakes
  • Coin “Pusher” Game devices to include, but not limited to: Monopoly, Cyclone Fever, Bonus Hole, Car Wash
  • Pull Tab dispenser devices to include, but not limited to: Phone Cards, Horoscope Cards, Internet Time Cards”

In the last three years, police confiscated hundreds of sweepstakes machines, which were ruled as illegal gambling devices by a federal court judge last month.

Shortly after the ruling, police and prosecutors, armed with a 414-count indictment, rounded up nine people on various gambling charges.

In a press conference May 5, city prosecutor Keith Kaneshiro promised that the investigation would continue and there would be more arrests, “so there’s a clear warning to the people out there who are still operating the machines that the City and County of Honolulu is not going to tolerate illegal gambling in this city.”

On Monday, Kaneshiro said the cease-and-desist letter was not meant for release to the media.
“We’re giving them leeway for them to take out and stop the machines – after that, we’re going in and seize the machines and close the business. Now we think it’s important that we do act on it because the places that have these gambling machines have become a den of criminal activity,” Kaneshiro said.

According to a spokesperson, gambling devices — no matter what names they go by — are illegal in Hawaii and the Office of the Prosecutor will aggressively pursue criminal action.

 

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