For years, Hawaii lawmakers have discussed legalized gambling in the state. Also for years, they have repeatedly rejected the idea. Joining Utah, Hawaii is the only other state to prohibit all forms of gambling. It’s going to stay that way a little longer, too.
Hawaii Rejects Gambling Proposals
The Hawaii state legislature has declined to approve any proposal that would legalize gambling, sports betting, or lotteries in the state. The different legislation was either rejected by committees or not scheduled in time to meet last Thursday’s deadline. All bills currently being considered in this session must move to their final committees in both the House and Senate.
Many Hawaii residents travel to Las Vegas every year to gamble, but opponents aren’t keen to legalize gambling in the islands. Even though the legislators who introduced the bills admitted that they were unlikely to advance, they said it was important to continue the discussion.
John Mizuno, House Vice Speaker, is a proponent of gambling. He said that lawmakers are less likely than ever to touch on controversial issues in an election year. He doesn’t believe there is the political will to pass these bills, particularly with a surplus in the budget.
Mizuno stated that the majority of the lawmakers in Hawaii don’t believe gambling is the best way to help Hawaii move forward.”
Illegal Gambling Acceptable in Hawaii
Opponents of legalized gambling repeatedly voice their concerns over potential increases in crime and addiction. They argue that these risks could outweigh any revenue gains for the state. However, there has yet to be any evidence that legalized gambling leads to greater crime or addiction anywhere that it has been introduced.
Some could argue just the opposite. The continued denial of legalized gambling produces more crime. For example, in December of last year, a raid on an illegal gaming room in Kalihi saw Honolulu police seize a dozen gambling machines. Officers also confiscated cash and a firearm from the gambling room.
Last November, 23 gambling machines were seized in two illegal game rooms. A month earlier, police raided an illegal gambling hall and confiscated firearms, drugs, gambling machines and cash.
Just last week, Honolulu police seized eight gambling machines and cash in an illegal Waipahu game room Tuesday evening.
In all of those cases, the participants were at risk the entire time of everything from scams to murder. The seized cash could have been part of the illegal arms or drug trade and, because the gambling halls are operating underground, finding them is difficult. The police did a great job in these instances, but there’s no way of knowing how many more illegal gambling rooms are active daily, putting at risk local communities and the state.