Hawaii is only one of two states that do not permit gambling in some form. Utah is the other. Could that be changing? With revenue running at a trickle and the state finding itself without substantial revenue returning anytime soon, new or revisited ideas for income are coming to the table. We aren’t surprised that includes gambling. It has been nearly 10 years since Hawaii last seriously considered legalizing gambling. At that time, the House Economic Revitalization and Business Committee and the House Judiciary Committee voted in favor of it, while the legislature later rejected it.
In the prior go around, poker tournaments and other “games of skill” were being considered while other gambling forms would have still been illegal. State licensed gambling venues would have been permitted, and the state would have participated in their fees. Tournaments such as the hugely popular World Series of Poker would have become possible in Hawaii. These are seen as a way to attract new visitors and publicize Hawaii’s tourism industry.
Hawaii had also considered internet poker sites, in which the plan was to charge at least $100 million for servers to be based in Hawaii, wherein the state would have also received a 20% tax on revenues.
This time, the proposal is for a casino building on Hawaiian Home Lands (DHHL) based in Kapolei.
Starting next week, consideration for a new legislative proposal will begin. The idea is based on the need “to address historic funding shortfalls to that department made worse by the economic shutdown from the global pandemic. That according to legislative analyst Lehua Kinilau-Cano.
Being considered is the establishment of a gaming commission to regular legalized gambling. The proposal is solely for gaming on DHHL commercial use property in Kapolei, Oahu.
The proposal is being proferred as part of the governor’s bill plan for the 2021 legislature agenda. It may ultimately be included or withdrawn. Thereafter should it be included, it would need to be approved by the legislature. While that will have much opposition, Hawaii has also never faced its current financial situation, which will necessitate extraordinary measures.
Both Senate President Ron Kouchi and Kapolei Senator Mike Gabbard have expressed opposition to the measure. One of Kouchi’s concerns is whether gaming in Hawaii would allow Native Americans to set up casinos here as well to exclude Hawaiians and the state. Kouchi said, “They would see great revenues from gaming operations, and the Native Hawaiians would be left out.”
We’d like to know your opinion about legalized gambling in Hawaii. Would you be more or less likely to visit?