Cyber-jackpot winner in Catch-22
By Yasmin Anwar
Advertiser Staff Writer
Police are on the cybertrail of an Internet gambler who hit the jackpot at an online casino and now faces the consequences of Hawai'i's anti-gaming laws.
However, they say it'll take some high-tech sleuthing to track down the elusive and possibly fictitious winner of InterCasino's $176,688 Mega Jackpot, who has played under the online moniker "Moosed" since 1996.
According to a press release from the popular Caribbean-based InterCasino, Moosed of Hawai'i was having a quiet game of poker before breakfast last Saturday when he got a rare royal flush.
Moosed is reported to have sounded shocked when casino manager Ryan Hartley phoned him two hours later to congratulate him on his win.
It's hardly any wonder.
Virtual or not, casino gambling is illegal in Hawai'i, and so Moosed is faced with a peculiar quandary:
Should he declare his winnings, incriminate himself and face local penalties? Or should he keep quiet about his online windfall and risk prosecution for federal tax evasion?
Mervyn Lee, a Honolulu tax attorney, says if Moosed were his client, he'd advise him to declare his winnings immediately and risk a local misdemeanor charge.
"Tax evasion is a felony," he said.
Meanwhile, Lt. Michael Fujioka of the Honolulu Police Department's vice division is wondering if Moosed even exists, or if he is just a figment of an InterCasino publicity campaign.
If he does exist, and if the case falls under local police jurisdiction, police will track him down in cyberspace, Fujioka said
If the police department ignores Internet gamblers in Hawai'i, "the floodgates will open," he said.