Youths lured to play video games for cash
By BRENDAN DELFINO
YOUTHS as young as 11 have discovered a video game that pays out up to $1,000.
Police are concerned youths are being exploited by illegal gambling operators who are converting arcade games into money-making slot machines.
Four grocery shop proprietors aged 31 to 54 have been arrested in recent raids in Kwai Tsing and Lei Muk Shu for housing the machines, some of which were hidden in cubicles.
Kwai Tsing district operations officer, Chief Inspector Lam Chi-ming, said many ran horse-racing games commonly found in video arcades.
'The method of playing is the same but instead of getting extra games when you win, you get money falling out,' Chief Inspector Lam said.
He said it was the first time illegal games had been seized in the district. Three youths under 13 had been caught playing them but were let off with a warning.
'This is quite worrying here in Kwai Tsing because there are so many schools and housing estates.
'There is no indication of a syndicate running the machines but we are still investigating to identify their suppliers.' Thomas Mulvey of the Family Welfare Society said because children were attracted to game machines steps should be taken to set up video arcades for minors.
Youths under 16 are not allowed by law to enter game centres.
'I don't think these kids are aware of the seriousness of the crime because these TV games are naturally interesting to children,' Mr Mulvey said.
Police said six machines had been seized from four shops since November.