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The Honolulu Police Department has historically opposed the legalization of gambling in Hawaii. In fact, during Hawaii’s 2011 Legislative Session, HPD Officers endorsed by Police Chief Louis Kealoha testified against bills to allow: on-board gambling on cruise ships docked in Hawaiian waters, bingo, gambling on Hawaiian Homelands and development of a stand-alone casino in Waikiki. The later being the objective of Mrs. Watanabe’s lobbying efforts and a mainland casino syndicate (see links to testimony in Scribd box below).
In nearly every instance where HPD officials provided testimony in opposition to a gambling measure, lobbyist John Radcliffe provided testimony in favor of gambling. Radcliffe is believed to be the driving force behind the lobbying group for which Mrs. Watanabe fronts.
Honolulu Police Department's Position on Gambling.
Honolulu Police Department's Gambling FAQ
Honolulu Police Deparment's Ant-Gambling Links
During Fall 2010, Watanabe identified herself as the executive producer of “Hawaii’s Big Deal Poker Tournament,” a reality TV show airing Saturdays on Honolulu’s KHON. Despite promises for a second season of Hawaii’s Big Deal, nothing has materialized. And it’s unclear who bankrolled Season One. Watanabe claimed it was to bring attention to her newly formed tax exempt charitable organization, the Hata Foundation.
For several years prior, Watanabe was owner of failed nightclub and restaurant operations. Her establishments were under increasing scrutiny by the Honolulu Liquor Control Commission (HLCC). Namely she had repeated violations serving liquor to minors and it was alleged that she hid her books from HLCC investigators for four years – nearly the entire time she operated the nightclub. In 2009-10, she had one temporary license revoked and the nightclub’s liquor license was suspended. In the wake of HLCC actions, she chose to shutter the establishments.
After closing the failed nightclub and restaurant, producing one season of “Hawaii’s Big Deal Poker Tournament”, and spending nearly $40,000 on a sophisticated advertising campaign which failed to push legislators to support the mainlanders’ proposal for a stand-alone casino in Waikiki, Watanabe filed a $387,000 bankruptcy.
In other related developments...
HPD Major Arrested on Extortion
Reports from the Associated Press during the last month indicate a Honolulu police Major Carlton Nishimura who is facing federal extortion charges received $6,000 a month to protect an illegal gambling room.
According to the court documents and the FBI, while a captain assigned to a Honolulu patrol district, Nishimura directed subordinate officers to inspect and harass other illegal gambling operations considered by his patron to be direct competition.
Nishimura, 55, has remained in custody since a raid on Nov. 14, when agents said they found about a half-pound of methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia. They also reported the discovery of $2,400 in cash in a safe, jewelry, gift cards, casino player club cards and a college basketball betting odds sheet.
Gambling Scandal Plagues University of Hawaii Football
Although Honolulu Police say they don’t have enough information to launch an official investigation, allegations surfaced in November to suggest that University of Hawaii football players were involved in a points shaving gambling scheme.
University President M. R. C. Greenwood said she and board of regents Chairman Eric Martinson met with Honolulu Police Chief Louis Kealoha to offer the university's full cooperation.
However, the NCAA said, "We are extremely concerned by the point-shaving allegations involving University of Hawaii football student-athletes and have been in contact with the school since early November."
"We take any allegation of point shaving very seriously as it is a crime that threatens two core NCAA principles -- the well-being of student-athletes and the very integrity of intercollegiate sport."
Subsequently University of Hawaii Warriors Football Coach Greg McMackin resigned under pressure.