Hawaii Launches Statewide Crackdown on Illegal Gambling Operations

  • FBI, ATF, Department of Homeland Security and Honolulu Police Department involved
  • 80 illegal game rooms located in Oahu's residential and commercial areas alone
  • Operations have been tied to other crimes involving robbery, firearms. and arson
armed police officer in uniform during a raid
The statewide crackdown operation in Hawaii has already led to 15 arrests in Oahu, and the confiscation of 60 illegal gambling machines. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

A statewide operation

Law enforcement agencies in Hawaii are taking a stance and initiating a crackdown on illegal gambling operations. A massive effort is being made to tackle unsanctioned game rooms to stop criminal activity in the state.

80 illegal game rooms are in operation in Oahu alone

The FBI, the Department of Homeland Security, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and the Honolulu Police Department are working together to stop criminals from running such establishments inside homes and businesses. According to the U.S. Attorney for the District of Hawaii Kenji Price, 80 illegal game rooms are in operation in Oahu alone.

Recent raid arrests

So far, 15 people have been arrested for such operations in residential and commercial areas of Oahu. Police confiscated 60 illegal gambling machines during a recent raid. Lynn Kawano, the chief investigative reporter at Hawaii News Now, posted a video on Twitter of police officers in action.

Officials found individuals operating game rooms in single-family dwellings during the sting. The raided buildings were located in Pearl City and Waipahu.

Among those arraigned, one suspect, Freddy Siatunuu, faces an additional charge for allegedly robbing a patron who had won $4,000 via an electronic gaming machine.

Authorities send clear message

U.S. Attorney Kenji Price stated that the operation is sending a clear message to illegal game room operators. He was quoted as saying:

Our goal is to take your property through civil or criminal forfeiture.”

According to Price, illegal gambling attracts other crimes, including arson and robbery. In one instance, one person facing an indictment charge as a game room operator set fire to a warehouse where games were housed. The landlord of the warehouse sent an eviction notice to the individual once he became aware of the operation.

Police have also linked the illegal game rooms to gun and knife crimes in the state. Currently, six of the 15 people charged due to the crackdown on illegal gambling operations in Hawaii remain at large.