6 employees arrested at Internet sweepstakes stores
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Honolulu Police conducted more raids of Internet sweepstakes stores today. Machines were seized at stores in the Aiea Shopping Center, Stadium Mall and Sam Sung Plaza on Keeaumoku Boulevard.
Today was the third raid in less than five months and this time police didn't just leave with the machines, they made six arrests as well.
"Oh alright, give'em the shaka," said an unidentified man as he was in handcuffs being put in the back of a police car and still trying to give us the shaka sign.
He was one of six arrests made today in connection with what authorities call illegal gambling at Internet sweepstakes locations.
"If a business is just saying huh we'll ignore the law we'll put new machines in and make money from these gambling machines then law enforcement needs to send a stronger message and I think the arrests are excellent. They send that message," said State Rep. Cynthia Thielen, (R) Kailua, who opposes gambling in Hawaii.
The raids happened in Aiea, Kalihi and the Keeaumoku area. The six employees were arrested on 72 felony and misdemeanor gambling crimes. Police also say 22 gambling machines were seized along with gambling records.
The machines are part of the products direct sweepstakes line. Some of the locations have been raided before which means they presumably got new machines and continued business. This time police shut them down by locking the doors. They also took signs and other items besides the machines.
At this point no customers have been arrested.
"I think customers that go in those places assume it is legitimate and so no I don't think so. I think it is the businesses putting in the gambling machines that should be held responsible," said Rep. Thielen.
After previous raids the stores filed a lawsuit to get their machines back and argue they are not illegal.
Police say they will continue to work with the Prosecutor's Office to investigate and seize the machines.
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