At the moment, Hawaii is, besides Utah, the only state in the United States where gambling is prohibited. However, according to the latest news coming from the Aloha State, things may change soon. The Hawaiian Homes Commission approves the recent Hawaii Casino proposal on the Island Of Oahu. A draft proposal from the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands (DHHL) that would permit the development of resort property in the city of Kapolei which would allow limited casino gaming has been approved by the Hawaiian Homes Commission (HHC).
In the session that took place on December 22, the Commission voted 5-4 in favor of the proposal authorizing the commercial use of the single property on Hawaiian Home Lands. The proposal includes the establishment of the Hawaii Gaming Commission and defines the criteria for awarding the license, the license itself, and the fee.
The idea for this proposal came to life amid the Covid-19 crisis, which has hit Hawaii hard, similar to other parts of the US, worsening the already existent budget shortfall. DHHL Deputy Chairman, Tyler Iokepa Gomes, said that he hopes that Hawaii State Legislature will recognize the urgency to address the program’s budget shortages and support this bold action to create adequate and sustainable funding for the Department.
The approval by the HHC is just the first step before the proposal can come to full effect. Next on the agenda, submission of the proposal to the Department of the Attorney General, the Department of Budget & Finance, and Governor David Ige for review. Should the Governor decide to make the draft legislative a part of his packet, the proposal will be further considered by Hawaii State Legislature. In case that the governor doesn’t make the proposal a part of his packet, the DHHl will be forced to find another legislator to present it.
The funds going to the Department will be collected through the lease agreement and licensing. Also, the collection of 80 percent of the state tax payments on gross gaming revenue. Earlier, Gomes also notes that the proposal will also call for $5 million funding to select the licensee who would be allowed to develop, build, and run the first integrated casino resort in Hawaii.
Explaining the reason for drafting this proposal, the DHHL list numerous benefits that will come from developing a resort of this kind on an Oahu site. Citing the cases of Macau, Singapore, the Bahamas, and other US states, DHHL argues that integrated resort development will have significant economic and social benefits for the whole state. Furthermore, the casino and their suppliers will boost the local economic activity, create jobs, and attract even more tourists. All of this has already proven to be the case in twenty-nine states with casino properties on federal trust lands.