Sweepstakes Distributor Takes Hawaiin Authorities to Court

A sweepstakes machine distributor in Hawaii has decided to take the city to court after having 80 of its machines confiscated in a police raid last month. The machines were seized in what the authorities say are part of an ongoing gambling investigation from six Winnerz Zone arcades across the city. Just as a reminder, Hawaii is one of only two states in the country which does not allow gambling in any shape or size, including a state lottery.

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The distributors, however, say that the authorities have hung onto their products for too long without pressing charges or arresting anyone. The state has up to 30 days to keep confiscated goods before they have to return it to the owners or at least proceed with some kind of charge. Attorneys for the sweepstakes machine distributor say that by keep the machines, the state is preventing their clients from making money, and this financial loss could lead to their downfall.

A preliminary injunction was filed this week in Honolulu to have the machines returned and the businesses have also said that they will be suing for damages and loss of income.

Sweepstakes arcades generally offer customers the chance to win up to $5,000. The games are bright and flashy and emulate a true Vegas casino floor.

“As you know and everyone else knows people from Hawaii like to play cards and gamble so the legal way to do it is sweepstakes,” the General Manager of Winnerz Zone, Steve Ohira, was quoted as saying several months ago.

“In Hawaii there’s three requirements in order for a game to be illegal. Those three requirements are: you have to pay money, there’s a game of chance, and there’s a payout. And what these games do is they eliminate that first element, there’s no requirement to pay money in order to play,” says Winnerz Zone Attorney Matthew Matsunaga.

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