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Best of Howard Stutz

Gaming Guru

Howard Stutz
 

Hawaii legislators once again explore gaming legalization

7 February 2011

HONOLULU, Hawaii -- Another effort to legalize gambling in Hawaii will most likely fade like a Honolulu sunset.

Hawaii and Utah are the only two states without any form of legalized gaming. A proposal for a single casino on the island of Oahu died in the state legislature a year ago. Other gaming proposals have also failed.

So there's not much hope that a measure to allow video poker and slot machines to operate on Oahu, including locations along Honolulu's Waikiki Beach, will pass this time.

Hawaii's House Tourism Committee is contemplating the measure. If the bill were to pass the full legislature, Hawaii voters would be required to approve the measure as a constitutional amendment.

"There is low probability for passage of a gaming bill in Hawaii given the state's anti-gaming history," Union Gaming Group Principal Bill Lerner told investors.

Gaming bills have been seen as attempts to address Hawaii's budget problems as an alternative to tax increases.

Lerner noted that any movement toward legalizing gaming in Hawaii could hurt Boyd Gaming Corp., which has a Hawaiian air charter business that feeds customers to its downtown casinos.

"If gaming were to expand in Hawaii we anticipate very marginal risk to Boyd," Lerner said.