New Gaming Destination: Hawaii?

The Associated Press is reporting that a proposed stand-alone casino in Waikiki has stalled in a state House committee.

House Bill 2788 would also create the Hawaii Gaming Commission and impose a 15 percent tax on the casino’s gross receipts.

The committee’s decision to defer the bill means the casino proposal is likely dead for the session, although it can be brought up again at any time before the Legislature adjourns May 3.

Most of the testimony submitted at the hearing opposed gambling, including that from Honolulu’s mayor and police department, as well as the Hawaii Tourism Authority. The state departments of Budget and Finance and Business, Economic Development and Tourism submitted testimony without taking a position.

Most opponents pointed to problems associated with legalized gambling, such as increased crime, unemployment, bankruptcy and family dysfunction.

Hawaii News Now released the results of a survey indicating that most Hawaiian residents do not want legalized gambling in the islands. The latest poll shows majority support for a state lottery and off-shore gambling, but support for gambling quickly diminishes once the subject turns to an on-shore casino.
When asked if they would support or oppose a state lottery, 49 percent responded in favor while 48 percent answered by saying they are against a lottery.  When asked their opinion on "shipboard gambling" (onboard ships off Hawaii's shores) 51 percent supported the idea and 46 percent opposed it.

Mauifeed, an island blog, asks the rhetorical question: "How long can Hawaii afford to say no to gambling?" According to Hawaii Public Radio reporter Wayne Yoshioka, the casino outlined in the bill would have brought in “about $395 million to the state.”

Bruce Fisher of Aloha Travel in Honolulu tweeted that, should Hawaii legalize gambling, Las Vegas might lose a lot of business, as "it's the #1 destination for [people] who live here…There is more support for gambling in Hawaii this year then in previous years," he added.


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