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Waikiki casino, wagering tax proposal likely dead this year

By Treena Shapiro

Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 01:01 p.m. HST, Feb 13, 2012

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.

Tourism Committee Chairman Tom Brower said he wanted to take up the measure to keep the conversation open.

“Is gambling evil, or do people lack self-control?” Brower asked at a Monday hearing. “Personally, I don’t think gambling can make people anything that they aren’t already.”

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.

However, about two dozen supporters arrived at the hearing carrying signs and wearing blue t-shirts that read “Casino Now!”

The bill to allow a 20-year license for a single casino was introduced by Speaker Emeritus Rep. Joe Souki. The measure defines a casino as having at least 1,500 slot machines.

Brower said he has done extensive research on the issue and found that 3 percent to 6 percent of gamblers would be expected to have problems with gambling addiction.

“Gambling could be a new industry for Hawaii to increase tax revenue and lessen future tax increases on residents,” he said in a news release announcing the hearing. “Other world cities show that if gambling is done right, residents benefit; if done wrong, some may suffer.”

Gaming bills are regularly introduced at the Legislature, but Hawaii remains one of two states with no legalized form of gambling. Utah, the only other state with no gaming, has five neighboring states with 280 casinos within driving distance, noted lobbyist John Radcliffe.

Radcliffe, one of legalized gambling’s most vocal proponents, told lawmakers he has been bringing economic data to the Legislature for 12 years. This data indicate that 69 percent of Hawaii residents travel to Las Vegas, but 42 percent would stay home and gamble here if it were an option.

“We export gamblers at no benefit to our state, and we export their $1 billion in after-tax dollars, too,” Radcliffe said.

Grace Furukawa from the League of Women Voters urged committee members to table the idea.

“Slot machines alone are the crack cocaine of gambling and promise the loss of one job from small business a year,” Furukawa said, referring to statistics from the Hawaii Coalition Against Legalized Gambling.

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SmedleyFerndock wrote:
This is better than the fee of the week. Every Legislator has a feel good non-profit that he/she wants to support with a fee on some supposedly bad public vice. With gambling as a revenue source those of us on fixed incomes who are being assaulted with the multitude of fees can choose to not participate if we do not want to. The social ills that gamblinng supposedly nurture are here anyway so lets keep the gambling money here in Hawaii.
on February 13,2012 | 10:03AM
frontman wrote:
Las Vegas casinos must have come up with a big enough payoff to candidates up for re-election to keep gambling out of Hawaii one more session.
on February 13,2012 | 12:35PM
kainalu wrote:
Put down Tom Brower as brainless. Because people do lack self-control, gambling is "evil". All one has to do is drive along the back streets of Vegas or Reno to see the ill-effects of gambling. Think we've got a homeless problem now? Build a casino and see what happens.
on February 13,2012 | 10:23AM
Maneki_Neko wrote:
How about Monaco? See a lot of homeless in Ferraris in Monte Carlo? There are many examples other than Vegas. You need to broaden your experience.
on February 13,2012 | 10:30AM
livinginhawaii wrote:
I have never seen homeless in Monte Carlo. Similarly to Hawaii, there are limited ways to get there.
on February 13,2012 | 12:18PM
Fred01 wrote:
You, like so many other uninformed local idiots, have no idea at all what you are talking about.
on February 13,2012 | 11:05AM
livinginhawaii wrote:
Please provide a Nevada website reference to back up what you claim here. On prior posts I have repeatedly asked for the data and it NEVER has been provided. When I do see homeless data from the State of Nevada it always dis-proves claims such as the one you have made. Again, please provide the data to back up what you are saying here.
on February 13,2012 | 12:13PM
olos73 wrote:
How do you know the back streets of Vegas or Reno is a result of ill-effects of gambling. We don't have gambling now, but look at all the homeless we have. Why? Because the economy is bad. How many lost jobs because State didn't have money to keep services going. Or, look at all the downsizing of departments within the State. Veterans come out of the service and can't find jobs. Students graduate from college and no jobs. If they build the casino, at least it'll give some people jobs. It'll keep some money from going out of State.
on February 13,2012 | 06:30PM
Ambergris23 wrote:
@ olos73: You are correct!!!! With casinos and gambling, despite the disadvantages, a lot of jobs would be provided to those who are unemployed and $$$$ would remain in Hawaii. My vision? Use the convention center as the first casino....
on February 29,2012 | 07:17AM
kawika72 wrote:
Finally, something substantial that could benefit the State and help fill the coffers. A proposal that is self-supporting and not on the "backs" of tax payers. Hawaii needs this to pull us out of our economic slump. Yes, there could be some social repercussions, but for the majority, it would support services and needs of our State. This is true, only if our Legislators don't think of using the money for their own personal benefit. For instance - good time to give themselves another huge raise! Some of the biggest crooks are right in front of our eyes!
on February 13,2012 | 10:39AM
entrkn wrote:
This is pilau all the way through. Brower is so dirty he should be fired before the end of today. If he was a little smarter and a little less dirty he could have suggested a state lottery.
on February 13,2012 | 11:27AM
false wrote:
Yep, I like to gamble, but not here. Lottery is the only form of gambling that is even remotely okay.
on February 13,2012 | 11:32AM
KeithHaugen wrote:
Lottery is just as bad. Addicted gamblers who can't afford to lose their children's milk money, feel that a lottery is OK, not realizing that it is the poor who buy the tickets and for every lucky winner, there are tens or hundreds of thousands who lost. And the losses lead to increases in social ills, just as has happened in Las Vegas and in varying degrees in every state where gambling has been legalized. The mob loves it because they make a big take off legal casinos, parimutual betting, lotteries, etc.
on February 13,2012 | 02:04PM
olos73 wrote:
Addicted golfers that spend hundreds of dollars a week "lose their children's milk money" also. So what's your point? Golfers can spend that money, but gamblers can't? What social ills? It's already here even without gambling. Look at corruption in the church, with priests abusing/molesting altar boys. HPD officers involved with drug distribution, spousal abuse, etc. Politicians abusing their campaign funds. Where's your numbers on "the poor who buy the tickets?" I'm sure there's more middle class that gambles, than poor. Plane loads of senior citizens going to Vegas don't look poor to me. It's the individuals money. Let them use it the way they want. It's not coming out of your pocket. Use your money the way you want.
on February 13,2012 | 06:39PM
EwaBeach74 wrote:
It needs to be 30%. And it should be in the center of Oahu and 2 casinos. Let the mainland casinos bid for the right to have the property. And the bidding starts at 30%. None on the other islands. I dont think gambling is evil. Look at how many Hawaii residences travel to Las Vegas every year. Look at how many reunions are held in Las Vegas every year, those being for Hawaii high schools. The idea of having one in Waikiki is a head scratcher. Add to the congestion? Having it up near Kunia against the mountain range will also encourage more hotles to be built, more jobs and the highway can be improved with the money the state gets from the bidders. Just a thought.
on February 13,2012 | 12:46PM
olos73 wrote:
Here we go again. So how much more money from MY pocket will the State take since we don't have a revenue maker? Opponents of gambling must have sooo much money they like giving to the State that they don't want gamblers to bring in. Since we won't get the 15% tax on gross receipts, opponents should give 15% of their income. Sounds good to me. Opponents grumble about the State tax this, hike that, but where's the revenue they're bringing in? Opponents don't have a solution. If gambling not good for Hawaii, then why is it brought up every legislative session? Opponents, next time you drive on airport viaduct, look at the $300,000 planters your tax money bought. Or, explain to all the social agencies, programs that has/had to be cut because of not enough money. If you're an opponent of gambling and you got laid off from a City/ State agency, it's your fault. We have high unemployment because local government shuts down and cut back everything. How many people got laid off from City/State jobs? Don't blame gambling, because we don't have it. Don't blame drugs or alcohol addiction on gambling, either. Drugs and alcohol is the addiction, not gambling. The next time all you gambling opponents look in your pockets and wonder where your money went, and why there's less and less, thank the City and State. And say to yourself, "I'm glad I'm against gambling."
on February 13,2012 | 01:00PM
Changalang wrote:
I'll believe Big Gaming is dead only after the Sine Die.
on February 13,2012 | 02:04PM
Smiley7 wrote:
There is illegal gaming going on 24/7 every single day yet law enforcement does nothing. There is generation after generation of drug addicts who destroy their lives yet the powers that be said it is a community problem. There are many local people looking for better jobs and settle for low paying part-time jobs barely enough to feed their families or themselves. I know many people who do not eat lunch not because they want to but they can't afford to. The same old GFN Dems doing the same thing over and over expecting a different result. That my friends is the definition of insanity! Auwe!!!
on February 13,2012 | 03:55PM
ejkorvette wrote:
Some very very good points from most of the Commentors on the subject of Gambling or Not in Hawaii. I am not a Gambler of any sort for any reason. Personally the only sure thing I put my enerby into regarding improving my financial situation is Education, Hard work Ethic, Strong Faith, and keeping a Positive/Realistic Viewpoint. As Humans, we are all weak in some way or another, there are some that use their weakness's to their advantage by ridding themselves of it by recognizing the "trigger points" that cause them to fall and give in to tempatation, and change their attitude. Others, not so much. Gambling has its place and enjoyment, all those that fly from the Island to Vegas to gamble, have their own reasons and agenda's for this. When they return home, they face their reality and hopefully move on. WHen you have a Casino here, the convenience is apparent, but there's no adventure in leaving the island, change of scenery, meeting new people, etc. In Essence, let me say that if a Casino is built on Oahu, it will generate huge amouts of money, whether the revenue is honestly distributed for the better of the CIty/State is a "Guess/Gamble" into itself. The Temptation for more Corruption will be overwhelming, not to mention the other evils that will surely "crop" up. The vote should ultimately be left to the residents of Hawaii, by way of a true and accurate Poll. If one can imagine that! Unlike the mainland, Hawaii's infrastructure is very very unique to it's Sister States, very small, very rigid politically, and the Simplicity of our lifestyle may not leave any room for such a large undertaking like a Casino.
on February 13,2012 | 04:03PM
Vitz wrote:
Evil, Greed, Politics, is everywhere... People have voted on ballots... And yet they turn and twist and manipulate the majority. Rail*. Majority voted yes SS Marriage*. Majority voted no Casino? Jus sayin.
on February 13,2012 | 05:05PM
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