HONOLULU (KHON2) — HPD raided another illegal game room on Wednesday night. This one is across from Kalihi Uka Elementary School. Prosecutors said these game rooms are the main contributors to the rash of violent crimes.
A resident sent KHON2 his video of officers from HPD’s Gambling Detail confiscating gambling machines and devices in Kalihi. One man was arrested.
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“You guys did a great job,” the resident shouted to the officers.
Honolulu Prosecutor Steve Alm has made it a point that these gambling houses are fueling the rise in violent crimes on the island. He said part of the problem is that people working in them are only charged with misdemeanors, and they’re released after paying a fine of $50.
“If they have a felony conviction they’re going to be having to see a probation officer. If they have a record of a lot of other stuff, they could end up with some significant jail time,” said Alm.
Alm is hoping that a bill at the state legislature will change the law so those arrested at these places are charged with a felony. Alm points out that a felony conviction could also force the workers to turn against who’s in charge of the operation. Alm said those who are gambling in these places are not arrested.
“Obviously if they weren’t going we wouldn’t have game rooms. But it’s the kind of thing, I just don’t think people would think this is a good use of resources,” he said.
Alm added that a test case now in civil court would go after landlords if they are aware that their property is being used as a gambling house.
“If we are successful with that, the building owner could be prohibited from using the property for any reason for up to a year. And a building owner would absolutely not want that to happen,” said Alm.
The Honolulu Police Commission Chair Shannon Alivado shares the same concern and said these game rooms are a blight on the community. She adds that it’s now more important for residents to be vigilant.
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“If we see something that looks strange, if there are large machines that appear not to be a household appliance, we should be alerting ourselves and perhaps monitoring that type of activity,” said Alivado.