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Illegal poker room in Chiyoda attracted customers during coronavirus

TOKYO (TR) – Tokyo Metropolitan Police last week busted an illegal poker room in Chiyoda Ward that did a brisk business during the novel coronavirus pandemic, reports NHK (May 11).

On May 8, officers seized two poker tables, chips and playing cards from the room and arrested manager Takayuki Sugano, 37, on suspicion of provision of illegal gambling.

“Since the end of last month, I was making a killing,” Sugano told police in admitting to the allegations.

With the ongoing state of emergency in effect due to the coronavirus pandemic, most pachinko parlors have complied with government requests to shut their doors.

Yet not everyone has cooperated. One customer said that the poker room provided a discreet option to evade the state of emergency. “I got tired of self-restraint and came to play poker,” the customer said.

Tokyo police seized two poker tables, playing cards and chips from a poker room in Chiyoda Ward on May 8 (NHK)

Ventilation and hand sanitizers were not provided

The poker room was situated in a narrow space. Since opening last September, it was open on weekend nights and averaged about 20 customers per day. Ventilation and hand sanitizers were not provided.

Investigators wore protective clothing, including goggles and gloves, during the initial raid and subsequent investigation.

“In such an environment where clusters could occur at any time, an investigator could become infected,” one investigator said. “With a state of emergency in effect, what could [management] have been thinking?”