January 4, 2017
By Alex Cerball
The battle against illegal game rooms will continue for police and prosecutors in 2017.
It’s a misdemeanor if you’re caught gambling in a gaming room, but penalties are much stiffer if you work there, or have the lease for the property.
Chu Lan Shubert-Kwock, president of the Chinatown Business and Community Association, says game rooms lead to bigger problems in the neighborhood.
“I think the worst thing was the shooting, and then the stabbing and things like that, bank robberies,” she said.
In 2015, the Honolulu Police Department’s gambling detail conducted 65 operations and made 43 arrests. It also seized 241 illegal gambling machines valued at $1.75 million, and $229,529 in cash, according to the annual report.
“We are going to continue to close them down, but as you close them down and seize the machines, forfeit the machines, because it’s going to cost money to bring in more machines, and eventually, hopefully, the federal government would step down and not allow the machines to come in across the borders through the containers,” said city prosecutor Keith Kaneshiro.
Racketeering charges could result in 10 years in prison and promoting gambling up to five years.
“We can charge the cashier. We can charge the person who is a security guard there. We can charge the person who is just managing that operation in a racketeering charge,” Kaneshiro said.
“Why does it take so long to actually close them down?” KHON2 asked.
“Because we have to gather the evidence,” he replied. “We have to have operations to show that it is gambling and it is illegal gambling because we have to prove all of that.”