Hawaiian State Senators Propose Bills to Legalized Gambling

January 26, 2020 | Government

HAWAII — According to local media reports a pair of state Senate bills hope to legalize gambling in Hawaii in order to provide funding for necessary programs state-wide.

Senate Bill 850 — which was carried over from the 2019 legislative session — and Senate Bill 2669 were both proposed by Maui Senator Gilbert Keith-Agaran and co-sponsored by Kona Senator Dru Kanuha.

The two bills are functionally identical and would establish a Hawaii Lottery and Gaming Corporation to oversee a legal gambling industry throughout the state, Hawaii Tribune-Herald reported Saturday.

Such gambling would include legal wagering on games of chance — such as a lottery or card games — free-to-play games and sweepstakes offered outside of Hawaii to attract visitors to the state, and no more than two gaming events per year to further attract visitors.

Presently, Hawaii is one of only two states in the U.S. to have an outright ban on all forms of gambling, along with Utah. All other states permit legal gambling in some form or another, whether that be charitable games, state lotteries or other games.

In particular, the corporation would disburse 25% of all gambling proceeds to fill Department of Education shortfalls, and another 20% for DOE capital improvements. Another 20% would be allocated for University of Hawaii capital improvements.

Another 10% of the gaming proceeds would be granted to scholarship and loan-repayment programs for medical students who commit to practicing medicine in Hawaii for 10 years; another 10% would go toward the UH John A. Burns School of Medicine family practice rural residency program.

The remaining 15% of proceeds would be divided equally between watershed protection, administration costs and programs to reduce problem gambling.

Senator Dru Kanuha said the bills represent a “good effort” to generate revenue for programs that are consistently short on funding. The bills, he said, have a more thorough structure than similar attempts at gambling legalization that failed to succeed in the past.

Senator Agaran said he hopes the bills will spark a serious conversation about the potential benefits of legalized gambling.

SOURCE: Hawaii Tribune-Herald.

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