AIEA, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Normally Prize World would be in full swing as its open until midnight, but tonight it's closed after the third raid at this location alone.
One woman was arrested for promoting gambling in the first degree. Police also walked out of Prize World in the Aiea Shopping Center with a trunk full of boxes and evidence and a truck load of Products Direct Sweepstakes machines. One was even shoved in the back seat.
"We're kind of confused and frustrated at the same time being at that we're three weeks away from starting our trial which begins May 20 where the courts will decide the legality of the machines," said Tracy Yoshimura, PJY Enterprises.
His point, if the machines are illegal they'll be taken anyway. If not Police will just have to go through the trouble and embarrassment of returning them. Yoshimura, who distributes the machines and owns the Aiea location, has already sued for damages.
"It would have been better for them to have waited the three weeks given we're this close," said Yoshimura. "We're very confident that we'll prevail in this matter."
He says there have been about 22 raids, seizing 200 machines causing a million dollars in loss and damages. He says the machines are not gambling because customers buy a coupon to get merchandise that happens to come with a promotion to play the games where you can win cash.
"One of the problems is the promotion has become more popular than the merchandise," said Yoshimura. "That's not something that was intended to be that way and I don't know if that makes it criminal."
In a separate case the Feds have indicted two other men named Thanh Bao Ho and Lo Van Ho on conspiracy charges. They're accused of "structuring transactions to evade reporting requirements" by depositing several sums less than $10,000 minutes apart at the same bank. In all they deposited more than $487,000 in just three months. Apparently there is a lot of money to be made with the machines.
We've also learned the IRS is in town and helped take part in raiding four locations over the last week. Sources say they're not as concerned over the gambling aspect as they are with the what's being done with the money.
We did reach out to the Honolulu County Prosecutors office, but they declined comment at this time.