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Best of Howard Stutz

Gaming Guru

Howard Stutz

Hawaii won't be a gambling hotspot

26 February 2010

HONOLULU, Hawaii -- So much for Hawaii becoming the next gambling hotspot.

State lawmakers killed a bill on Wednesday that would have allowed casinos along Waikiki Beach. The fact that a public hearing was held on the bill was victory in some ways for casino proponents.

Hawaii and Utah are the only two states without any form of legalized gaming, casinos or lotteries.

Because of Hawaii's budget crunch, brought about by declining tourism to the islands, state lawmakers took testimony on a bill that would have allowed a five-year license to a casino in Honolulu and created a tax on gaming revenues.

Public testimony was overwhelmingly against the measure.

In addition to the Honolulu Police Department, the Honolulu Prosecutor's and state Attorney General's offices opposed the bill.

A lobbyist representing pro-gambling supporters said one casino in Waikiki could generate $522 million in income, attract new visitors and capture money from residents who gamble in Nevada.

However, State House Finance Chairman Marcus Oshiro, in killing the bill, quoted singer Kenny Rogers.

"You got to know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em," he said, quoting the lyrics from the song, "The Gambler."