Undercover sting led to gambling bust
By JOHN BURNETT
Tribune-Herald staff writer
Advertisement of cash prizes on the storefront window of a downtown Hilo arcade led police to raid the establishment late last month, according to court documents.
A sign above the door proclaims that Hilo Arcade is “where the adults act like kids.” Vice officers executed a search warrant on July 26 at the arcade at 138 Kinoole St.
Police seized eight electronic gambling devices and $1,447 in cash for possible forfeiture. The arcade’s owners, 27-year-old Cody Gilbert Yomes and 25-year-old Anthony Nakoa Areal were arrested on suspicion of promoting gambling, as were three employees: 23-year-old Kaylin Nicole Enos; 19-year-old Morgan Kamalei Kim; and 19-year-old Ruana Garcia, all of Hilo.
All were released pending further investigation and have not yet been charged.
Between July 19-23, undercover officers wagered more than $500 in machines titled “Pot of Gold” and “Game of Skill,” as well as computer terminals that were unnamed. The machines have bill validators that automatically convert currency into credits, documents state.
Officer Robert Stewart wrote in an affidavit that he told a man he believed was an arcade employee that he had “played similar types of games at another location but those were taken away.” Stewart wrote that the man told him that the games at the other arcade were illegal but Hilo Arcade’s games were not because once the cash is deposited into the machine, the player can enter a sweepstakes for phone minutes that can be used at pay phones.
Officer Scotty Aloy wrote that one $20 wager in a “Pot of Gold” machine was parlayed into more than $300 at one point. Aloy wrote that he had $159.50 in credit when he stopped. He wrote that he turned in a receipt generated by the machine to a woman employee of the arcade. He stated that the woman went into a back room and returned with the cash, telling Aloy: “Plenty money you won.”
Detective Chad Taniyama described three video gambling devices in the establishment as “a computer monitor and a keyboard.” He wrote that he sat at he middle keyboard while a young local woman sat to his left and assisted him with “logging into the game.” Taniyama stated that the woman told him to give his money to a woman who had greeted him and Aloy at the door, so she could input the money into the device with a password of his choosing. She reportedly explained that with the password, Taniyama could return at a later date and play the machine with money he didn’t “cash out.”
Taniyama wrote that he gave the woman $40 to put into the game and the woman took him “though the process of initiating the video gambling device.” He wrote that after he selected and inputted a password, a sweepstakes screen appeared.
“As I attempted to read the screen the female immediately instructed me to ‘X’ out of that screen so that I could begin playing,” Taniyama wrote. He added that he “played winning and losing until all the money was exhausted.”
The raid was the latest in a series of sweeps at arcades on the Big Island in the past year-and-a-half.
On Nov. 20, police arrested two men and two women at Pay Day Loans/Internet Café at 133 Makaala St. in Hilo. Officers also seized 15 machines, suspected gambling records and an undisclosed sum of money.
On July 20, 2012, police raided three Hilo establishments: Tilt Amusement Center in Prince Kuhio Plaza; Da Little Game Shack at 165 East Kawili St.; 777 Arcade at 500 Manono St. Officers seized $17,632 in cash, 33 machines and suspected gambling records. Two men and a woman were arrested.
And on March 20, 2012, police raided an establishment at 74-5589 Alapa St. in Kailua-Kona, seizing $18,207 in cash, 17 machines and suspected gambling records. Twelve arrests were made. The same day, a similar establishment, allegedly with the same ownership, was raided at 288 Kilauea Ave. in Hilo. The owner was arrested again, as was his wife. Police made no mention of any seizures at the Hilo establishment.
Court records indicate that no one arrested in the arcade raids has been charged with any offenses, to date.
Calls made Thursday afternoon to Lt. Mark Farias of Hilo Vice Section and county Prosecutor Mitch Roth were not returned by press time.
Email John Burnett at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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