Arcade rooms go underground as owners, promoters targeted

Arcade rooms are going underground, trying to stay hidden now that police and prosecutors are cracking down on them.

KHON2 was the first to report on a raid in Kalihi Tuesday afternoon of a suspected game room. Police removed eight machines believed to be used for gambling.

The site had tinted windows, cameras on every corner and an entrance around the back, and operated as what the city prosecutor calls an underground arcade.

“When I say have gone underground, they’ve gone to locations where it’s not accessible to the public. It’s private locations indicating they know it’s illegal,” said city prosecuting attorney Keith Kaneshiro.

These underground arcades aren’t just in Kalihi. Authorities say there are others being looked into.

“We are aware of several properties that have been doing illegal gambling and gambling machines and some of these properties have been notified already,” Kaneshiro said.

No arrests have been made in the Kalihi arcade bust because it is an ongoing investigation. While people use these places to gamble, KHON2 was told that the main focus is on those who operate the establishments.

“We don’t want to deal with just the gamblers. We want to deal with the people who are promoting it and the owners,” Kaneshiro said.

When asked if the owners know what’s going on in their buildings, Kaneshiro replied, “Oh, they have to know what’s going on.”

Kaneshiro said property can be seized if a building owner allows illegal activity to continue after receiving a notice from authorities.

While one underground arcade has been shut down, others who plan to continue on with the illegal activity should keep one thing in mind.

“There are gambling places all over the place and I think most of the time enforcement knows where they are and knows what’s going on and is just waiting for that perfect moment to do what happened yesterday,” said radio personality Mike Buck, who works nearby.

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