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Hawai‘i gaming commission up in the air

February 23, 2012
The Maui Weekly

The Maui News - House Bill 2788, which would have created a Hawai'i Gaming Commission and signaled the first steps at the creation of a standalone casino in Waikiki, has stalled in a state House committee.

The bill would have taxed the casino 15 percent on its gross receipts. Committee Chairman Tom Brower said he wants to see further discussion about the matter.

"Is gambling evil, or do people lack self-control?" Brower asked. "Personally, I don't think gambling can make people anything that they aren't already."

The bill deferment is an indication that it will not likely go to vote for this session, even though it can be brought up any time between now and when the Legislature adjourns on May 3.

The majority of the testimony at the hearing was in opposition of the plan, citing problems with legalized gambling including increased crime, unemployment, bankruptcy and family dysfunction.

Those in opposition included the Honolulu Mayor's Office and Police Department and the Hawai'i Tourism Authority. The state departments of Budget and Finance and Business, Economic Development and Tourism declined to take any position on the matter in their submitted testimony.

The bill was submitted by Speaker Emeritus Rep. Joe Souki of Maui.



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