City considers outlawing gambling machines

HONOLULU – The Honolulu City Council is considering making it illegal to own a gambling machine, tightening rules that have led to arrests but no prosecutions.

Hawaii is one of two states in the country with no forms of legalized gambling, including casinos or lotteries.

But recent raids of gambling parlors on Oahu have not resulted in any prosecutions, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported.

Councilman Joey Manahan said he wants to give law enforcement more tools to crack down on gambling.

More establishments with sweepstakes machines have been popping up and neighbors have complained, he said.

The bill would make it a misdemeanor to manage, maintain, produce, possess or use the machines.

It would be punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a $1,000 fine. The council is expected to consider the measure this week.

Companies that own the machines say they’re not gambling devices because people can enter sweepstakes and win prizes without buying anything.

Some machines require payment, with winnings distributed as vouchers that can be cashed in at a service window.