This article first appeared in the May/Jun 2011 issue of World Gaming magazine.
Last year World Gaming reported on the arrest of 178 people at the closing night party of the Hong Kong Poker House (HKPH).
The HKPH operated openly with police knowledge for approximately two years. Police did not warn or arrest any player during that time.
Last year HKPH voluntarily closed its doors, with a closing night party on 10 August. The party included a freeroll (free to enter) poker tournament, with non-cash prizes.
Police raided the party at 8:45pm and all 178 people present were arrested, whether they were playing poker or not. They included Asia’s poker playing elite, members of Hong Kong high society, Chinese and Western bankers, lawyers and other professionals and everyday Hong Kong citizens. For most, it was their first ever arrest.
Hong Kong police were accused of orchestrating a so-called ‘perp walk’ in front of Apple Daily cameras, by tipping off the notorious tabloid. Police conducted the ‘perp walk’ just in time for the newspaper’s deadline for the next morning’s issue. The story was splashed across the next day’s front page and the newspaper’s website as “Big Casino Found in Central”. The story showed images of those arrested being bundled into police vans.
The 178 arrested were held for periods ranging from 10 to 21 hours, and were made to return for questioning several times over the next four months. Eventually, some 65 non-playing bystanders were released without charge.
Hong Kong police confirmed approximately 113 people were charged. WGM has learned there were 99 players at the moment of the raid, most of whom were charged with gambling in a gambling establishment (at least two are known to have left Hong Kong permanently) and 14 were charged with either operating or assisting the operation of a gambling establishment.
During December, January and February, the nearly 100 people charged with gambling in a gambling establishment appeared at the Eastern Magistrates Court, and their charges were all dismissed by the court.
Of the 178 arrested, the cases of the 14 charged with either operating or assisting the operation of a gambling establishment are still pending, with the remaining 164 either not being charged at all or having their charges dismissed. So far no charge has been proved against any person involved in the case.