Tokyo authorities have taken 14 people into custody following a raid on an illegal poker room in Kabukicho, Shinjuku.
According to media reports, the operation worked on a referral system while the poker room collected a 5% rake hands played.
The arrests included four people believed to have run the operation, which netted around JPY27 million in sales since May, plus 10 customers who were arrested on the basis of being caught in the act of committing a crime. The customers were later released.
It is just one of multiple raids on illegal gambling operations in recent times, although these raids typically find baccarat tables – poker is relatively rare.
However, poker is currently enjoying a huge surge in popularity in Japan with a number of players having recently flown to Las Vegas to take part in the World Series of Poker, the world’s largest annual poker tournament series. Two of those players returned with WSOP bracelets.
Japan’s poker community has responded fiercely to news of this latest raid, with one commenting, “I wish people wouldn’t do this because it is making poker’s image look worse.”
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