The House Judiciary Committee this afternoon will hear bills relating to the legalization of gaming in Hawaii. The bill was introduced by Rep. Mele Carroll of Maui. HB2759 seeks establishment of casino gaming operations on designated Hawaiian Home Lands parcels.
The measure would impose a wagering tax on gross receipts with 20% going towards the State’s general fund and 80% going toward the Hawaiian Home Lands trust. Carroll introduced the bill in part to provide a mechanism in which DHHL could generate funds independently and diminish its reliance on the state.
DHHL currently earns about $16 to $17 million dollars in commercial lease properties and gets $30 million appropriated annual through the legislature because of a prior lawsuit, with the allocation due to expire in 2015.
DHHL officials say approximately 25,000 applicants for Hawaiian Home Lands have been waitlisted and the department is only able to process between 500 and 1,000 applications per year with current funding.
In a media release issued last week, Representative Mele Carroll said, “I’m introducing this bill not as a commercial enterprise, but as a mechanism that would allow DHHL to decide whether they want to consider gaming as a way to put more people onto Hawaiian Home Lands and to better fund their infrastructural and social programs.”
In addition to generating funding for DHHL and its beneficiaries, this bill is also aimed at invigorating Hawai`i’s economy by creating jobs for those in the construction and entertainment sectors as well as boosting hotel occupancy.