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Is Gambling Coming to Hawaii This Time?

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 It may ultimately be included or withdrawn.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?


20 thoughts on “Is Gambling Coming to Hawaii This Time?”

  1. Do you know if we have had one or both of the doses of the COVID vaccine, if we still need to present a negative COVID test?

  2. Aloha! Do you have any indication as to how the state of Hawaii is reacting to visitors who have already taken the vaccine? Do they still pretest? What if the test results in a false positive because of having just taken the vaccine? My family is coming in January, but has the opportunity to get the vaccine now. Do you know where I can go to get updated information to help them decide whether to take vaccine now, or wait until after the NAAT test and the trip?

  3. I feel (although Hawaii is a state and not a principality) for the sake of it’s citizens should look at what Monaco did to bring in income. Not only did they lower taxes, they also brought in gaming, for those of you who would be worried about it bankrupting it’s own citizens not so fast, Monaco does not allow its residents to enter a casino to gamble. Due to this out of the box thinking this Very small principality has become very rich. Hawaii needs to stop over taxing it’s residents and look at more ways to bring in people that want to park their money here while still making sure the residents are safe. It sounds tricky but it has been done. Let’s stop hiring government officials that only take care of themselves and their friends and look to those who want to make Big changes so that we can keep Hawaii in the Hawaiian Aloha way.

  4. Boring! Who would go to this beautiful place with all the wonderful outside activities and sit inside and empty their pockets. Crime is a big factor around casinos so there will be a big strain to local police and 911 services. Just another addiction to have to beat. Recreational cannabis would be a better return on investment and a huge tax revenue stream. Locals and visitor could enjoy sun grown products and not have to bother with indoor grows that take too much energy. Pakalolo smokers are pretty chill don’t create crime, and regardless of what people think, it’s not addictive, just profitable.

  5. I thought this land was to be used to build affordable housing for the Hawaiian people and give back there land
    If they can’t afford to build them houses how are they affording to build a casino
    Makes no sense to me …I say put the people of Hawaii first…after all thats what they promised the people housing affordable. Mahalo

  6. i am not in favor of big place to gamble in Hawaii. I fear that it would change the mood also which island would get it and would other islands want it…no anger please

  7. Aloha Guys
    Gaming is tourism, in LV Nevada several casinos have closed down. There are also nasty things connected to gaming, it’s not a perfect out.

  8. I lived in the mountains of New Mexico where horse racing, slots, and games of skill were played. Like Hawaii they are dependent to a large extent on tourism. I really think it would add a lot of excitement and some good paying jobs for residents. I have a relative who services slot machines and makes very good money. Give it go – set up all your prototype locations and then establish your regulations and work through the issues.

  9. I go to Hawaii at least 2 times a year. I also live in California the rest of the time. I don’t frequent the Casinos (owned and operated by the American Indians) but it does help in the Tax revenue. The indians are well healed from these casinos, and are very generous to the surrounding area where they are established. I think it would be a hoot, it they allowed the Native Hawaiians to established a Casino on the island that is all theirs. can’t think of the name of it, but it is just off the north west side of Kauai. They would bring a lot of business to them if they wanted it.

  10. Poker is not gambling. Poker is a game of skill that has an element of chance; it is not a game of chance that has an element of skill.

    While the outcome of any particular poker hand, or even any particular tournament may be determined by luck, in a series of such tournaments, the most skilled players will tend to outperform players who are less skilled. It is a common misconception that who wins most poker hands is determined by who gets dealt “the best cards.” This is not so. Most poker hands are won by a combination of strategic play and convincing your opponents that you have the best hand, not by actually having it. Poker is a game of mathematics, psychology and decision making, it is not a game of getting better cards than your opponent.

  11. I say bring it! I visit Hawaii often, and it would not change my opinion of the islands. If people (read visitors) can’t gamble in Hawaii, they will just gamble elsewhere…

  12. Go for it! Government needs to get out of the way of allowing people their own choices! Bring the Lottery too! Freedom!!!

  13. For me, it would not make a difference. I go to Hawaii for the wonderful beaches, balmy breezes and mai tai’s, Poker is not on my radar.

    But it wouldn’t keep my away.

  14. I live in Hawaii & would welcome all forms of gambling here. It doesn’t have to over-run the island or be “seedy”. I trust my government to carefully structure it to keep our culture alive.

  15. Gambling corrupts — it takes money, largely from the poor who can afford it the least, and transfers it to the wealthy. I have seen what it did in California. Instead of using the funds for basic and continuing education improvements, the funds were spent on unneeded programs. The overhead was high and the actual funds going to education were small compared to what was drained from the poor. Please don’t approve this entry program — we all will regret it later!

  16. If Hawaii wants to permanently end its econonmic woes, the answer is easy: Grant native gambling rights to the Hawaiians and put the casinos on ships.

    Don’t want to infect neighborhoods? Put the gambling on ships?

    Do you know how much of Asia – and how many billions of dollars – would flood into Hawaii if there was shipboard gambling?

    Of course Las Vegas wouldn’t like it and people also argue that gambling in Hawaii would destroy more Hawaiian lives and households than it would benefit.

    But there is also this fact: The citizens of Monaco are not allowed to gamble in the casinos at Monte Carlo.

    Maybe Hawaii could do something similar?

    Do this right and there will be more jobs than there are people living under blue tarps on Makaha side, and all over the Hawaiian islands.


    1. Shipboard gambling? Now there is something to consider. Covid testing on the dock or no entry, could exclude all locals like Monaco, and not have the seedy streets in town.

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