Hawaiʻi lawmakers to consider Sports Gaming Bill
At the legislature today, Representative John Mizuno will introduce his Sports Gaming Bill, which aims to open Oʻahu’s first single, stand-alone sports book and card room with a 10-year license.
“With Hawaiʻi residents dropping a billion dollars to Las Vegas, Nevada every year, I think a sports and card gaming bill warrants at least a discussion,” said Representative Mizuno. “If crime is associated with gambling, why is gaming legal in 48 states and why are so many Hawaiʻi residents going to Las Vegas, with many taking multiple trips? The people I know who enjoy trips to Las Vegas are mostly kūpuna, not criminals. I feel it is important to discuss options to keep local money in the local economy.”
Mizuno also points out that Boyd Gaming alone reported it earns about $600 million from Hawaiʻi visitors each year, citing a Dec. 20, 2011 article in Honolulu Civil Beat.
“Las Vegas is not called the Ninth Island for just any reason,” said Full House poker consultant Eric Ford. “It is known per capita that we are number one, for our love for Vegas, shows and gaming. And, it’s been proven, time and time again, for years. Hawaiʻi residents take over 500,000 visits a year to Las Vegas, with many visiting two or three times per year; they are spending and gambling $400 to $800 million a year in Nevada. Our job is to keep a portion of that money for our local economy and our local people.”
“As responsible residents of Hawaiʻi, we are sensitive to social concerns that have been raised in the past about gambling, but we believe this legislation addresses those concerns,” said House Committee on Economic Development Chair Daniel Holt.
According to the proposed legislation, customers would only be allowed to enter the sports book and card room after registering with the premises and paying a daily entry fee.
“Local residents who visit Las Vegas several times a year, where they spend hundreds of millions of dollars, will hopefully be encouraged to stay here and keep their money in Hawaiʻi for Hawaiʻi’s economy,” said Representative Holt.