Hawaii, under pressure from the effects of Covid-19, may finally be ready to start thinking about legalized gambling. Several bills have now been proposed to support the budget and generate new tax revenue through gambling.
House spokesman Scott Saiki has proposed House Bill 359, which would allow the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands (DHHL) to operate a casino resort. The funds generated would help native Hawaiians return to the ancestral lands that are not coming from anywhere else with expected budget deficits.
State Senator Jarrett Keohokalole has proposed a similar bill for the House of Lords, but does not yet seem convinced that this is a good idea. “We should have a discussion about whether the casino plan is a good and viable policy for the state,” he said. “Given this budgetary situation, it is unlikely that the department will expect funding to make this happen. … My priority is addressing the waiting list. “
The waiting list he speaks of currently has 28,000 native Hawaiians. Through the DHHL, they would return to their homeland to fish again, to farm or simply to have a home.
The concept has some support as it was approved by the Hawaiian Home Lands Commission with 5-4 votes in December 2020.
But there are also other ideas on how the state budget can be improved. Two Senate bills (853 and 561) and one House bill (363) all propose a state lottery. House Bill 772 proposes another single casino, a Las Vegas-style resort in the Hawaii Convention Center. Another House Bill (457) goes much further and suggests offshore games, a lottery and two casinos.
Budget deficits are projected to be $ 1.4 billion over the next four years, and Rep. John Mizuno, who supports the Convention Center Casino, said the state desperately needs an ambitious solution. “We need jobs, jobs, jobs. It is worth discussing. “
It would take some discussion. Hawaii does not currently have any legal forms of gambling.