Hawaiian lawmakers have waited long enough to collect the revenue, which legal gambling would provide and to invest it in the state’s infrastructure. Looks like they would have to wait a little longer.
Last week the Senate Committee on Hawaiian Affairs made an amendment to bill SB 1321, which gave permission to the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands (DHHL) to establish a legal gaming sector.
The amendment was welcomed by Hawaiian Homes Commission Chair William J Aila Jr. He said: “If successful, this measure would provide DHHL a consistent source of funding in order to develop homestead lots. That is our purpose, and in order to do that, the Department needs a consistent source of funding for infrastructure construction.”
Under the terms of the amended bill, the DHHL would need a “super majority” to ratify the introduction of casinos across the island, although not on native land.
The bill would bring enough profit for new homes to be built. It stated: “The legislature further finds that over 28,000 native Hawaiians are awaiting homestead leases while the department of Hawaiian home lands struggles to develop land and lots.“
Hawaii Needs Funding
The state finds itself in a financial crisis due to the coronavirus pandemic. It would need over $6 billion to fulfill the needs of the people on the waitlist as well as another $10,000 for other costs.
According to the bill, in the face of the pandemic and all the financial losses the state experienced, it would need at least another hundred years to meet the needs of its beneficiaries at current funding levels.
It added: “The legislature additionally finds that, in the face of an unprecedented and historic budget shortfall as a result of the ongoing coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, the department of Hawaiian home lands must seek alternative means of revenue.”
One of the alternatives to compensate for losses is the development of an integrate resorts, which would include limited casino gaming on Hawaiian home lands designated for commercial use on the island of Oahu.
Hawaiian appetite for legal online gambling can only be compared to Texas’. The state has been preparing its ground for gambling operations until Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick made a statement that crushed all hopes.
He announced that he is opposed to such a move, as are the Republican senators. Such a statement makes it practically impossible for a bill to legalize gambling to pass since the Texas Senate consists of 18-13 majority of Republicans. In order for the legislation to pass, it needs 21 votes in favor. According to Mr. Patrick, there is not even a slim chance for this to happen.
It looks like Texas will continue to have one of the strictest gambling laws in the US.
Source: “Hawaiian Home Lands given five-year deadline for legalized gambling”, SBC Americas, February 15, 2021