Police Raid Hawaii Poker Home Game
Defendants Believe Game Was Legal Under State's Social Gambling Laws
On Thursday, the Maui Police Department raided a poker home game being hosted by 35-year-old Khanhnha Vanhtha.
The Department’s Vice, Gambling and Morals Unit executed a search warrant and discovered the game taking place in the living room. Vanhtha was arrested and charged with second degree gambling promotion and possession of a gambling device.
Vanhtha’s bail was set at $400. His eight opponents in the game were also arrested with bail set at $200 each.
The Maui Poker Association issued a statement, saying that the raid was unjust because the game falls under Hawaii’s Social Gambling statutes (712-1231) and does not violate any laws.
According to the statute, social gambling occurs when players compete on equal terms, the host does not profit from a rake, the game is not played on public property and all of the players are at least 21 years old.
Furthermore, the players’ defense is also aided by a recent decision by U.S. District Judge Jack Weinstein, who ruled that poker was a game of skill and does not violate federal anti-gambling laws.
Hawaii is one of only two states, the other being Utah, that has no form of legalized gambling.
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