Hawaii Might Be Forced To Legalize Casino Gambling Due To Financial Crunch
Hawaii has resisted the urge to move towards legalizing gambling for years. Hawaii and Utah are the only states to have no form of gambling but that could soon change in Hawaii. State legislators announced in 2020 that they were looking at the possibility of legalizing gambling and that push has gained a lot of momentum since then.
The United States topped the list of countries to be impacted the most by COVID-19 in 2020. Some states like Hawaii suffered huge financial losses during the lockdown because Hawaii generates most of its revenue through tourism. The state lost billions of dollars in revenue and continues to lose money in 2021.
The state budget faces a $1.4 billion deficit for the next four years and legislators are looking for ways to bring in more income.
One of the most obvious ways is to get real money casino gambling legalized as it would generate millions of dollars in revenue. It would also help to create thousands of temporary and permanent jobs, give the tourism industry a facelift and boost multiple small businesses in the state.
Those opposed to casino gambling legislation might be more convinced now due to COVID-19. Hawaii legislators have tabled multiple bills such as HB 363, HB 359 and SB 561. The push is to also get a state lottery approved.
Some bills want two casino resorts legalized while one bill pushes for just one casino resort. Legislators want a mega styled casino resort to be developed that will offer 24/7 gaming, sports activities, restaurants and bars, a golf course and a hotel.
Funds Needed For Hawaiian Home Lands
The Hawaiian Home Lands (HHL) program was established a century ago to get Hawaiians who have over 50 percent of native Hawaiian blood relocated to their homelands and engaged in agricultural activities. This program currently has a waiting list of 28,000 people and based on current financial projections, will take another century to complete as $6 billion in infrastructure costs alone is needed.
The Department of Hawaiian Home Lands (DHLL) is pushing for legalized gambling so that revenue from gambling can be used to fund the HHL program. The Hawaiian Home Lands Commission submitted a 5-4 vote in favour of casino gambling.
The current plan is to get state legislators to debate the pros and cons of legalized gambling before making a decision on which bill should move forward.