Illegal Gambling Establishments in Honolulu Require This in 2021

IRONY   In Hawaii there are gambling Establishments behind storefronts. They are easily accessible to the public. A visitor approached the door like it is an apartment front door, rings a buzzer, and the occupants ring the person in, the same way it’s done in apartment buildings. People can tell a game room by the constant traffic of people in and out at all hours. If you want to know where a game room is, you can always go out walking during the wee hours of the day. Anyone out on foot at 3:00a.m. in urban Honolulu is probably a gambler and/or looking for drugs. I have not questioned everyone inside of a game room but as far as I know gamblers do methamphetamine or “ice.” Ice is a drug that does not produce an immediate feeling of intense pleasure. Some people smoke it and wonder why they don’t feel anything at all, only to find that they do not sleep at all that night and they feel compelled to engage in a repetitive and simple physical activity for hours (literally). They take things apart and (try to) put things together. They clean. They feed dollars into a gambling machine with graphics similar to Atari. Ice smokers are perfect clients for game room operators. You can always find someone selling ice in a game room. There are always people lurking about partly due to the local custom of handing money to whoever is nearby when someone wins and “cashes out,” but also bc people are always looking for a chance to steal from winners, other gamblers, whoever.

With all the illegal activity you would think the whole place would be lawless. Not at all. Large men, often Samoan, are employed as security to stop thefts and maintain the game room’s reputation as a safe place to hand over all your money while you wait for fortune to smile on you and your strategic button pressing (I am being sarcastic). Naturally, they do not want to “draw heat” or attract attention form outsiders. Yelling, fights, any sort of hubbub is avoided to keep the knowledgable neighbors from complaining to law enforcement. All of these efforts to maintain a peaceful public image could be expected. But you know what surprised me?

The insistence on wearing masks. Yes, we all know the need. It surprises me that people who are not exactly committed to their personal health and community welfare would maintain this standard. Maybe they are concerned about the ever present snitches telling the police about mask violations and fingering the game room as a potential source of a future outbreak hotspot.  I’m speculating about this motivation. I just find it so funny when people you’ll down their masks to smoke ice from a glass pipe and then promptly replace it. Anyone else find this amusing?




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