It’s a bit early to pronounce any issue to be dead and buried for this session of the state Legislature, but the prognosis is poor for any legalized-gambling bill in 2016.
Hawaii is one of only two states with no legal form of gambling, and on opening day last month House Speaker Joseph Souki announced the House would consider a lottery bill. His proposal was energized in part by excitement surrounding a $1.5 billion Powerball jackpot on the mainland earlier this year.
Souki (D, Waihee-Waiehu-Wailuku) has long been a supporter of legalized gambling in Hawaii, but other House Democrats are known for resisting any form of gambling. Vice Speaker John Mizuno (D, Kamehameha Heights-Kalihi Valley) told reporters on opening day that he “would not hold my breath” hoping for a lottery bill to pass.
The state House has been so reluctant to approve any gambling measure over the years that lawmakers in the state Senate this year decided to hold off on any hearing on a lottery or gambling until it became clear the House was finally serious about the idea.
But that apparently won’t happen anytime soon. When Souki was asked Friday about the prospects for a legalized-gambling proposal to pass this year, he replied, “None.”