Staff & Wire Reports | For the first time in more than a decade, Hawaiian lawmakers will revisit the issue of permitting gambling in the state, which along with Utah, are the only two U.S. states that outlaw all forms of gambling.
Legislators are currently reviewing a bill that would establish one casino in Waikiki, along with a statewide Gaming Control Commission.
"The issue is tourism, the issue is we need to find ways to get people to come here to Hawaii," said Hawaii lobbyist John Radcliffe.
The measure would grant a 10-year license for one stand-alone casino in Waikiki but not in a hotel.
"As you know you can’t even see a movie in Waikiki now because the theatres are now closed so maybe one of those would be open I don’t know," said Radcliffe.
It also establishes the Hawaii Gaming Control Commission which would implement a gambling addiction program.
"We believe that is far stronger among the tourist industry then it was then. We know that we need to be looking of other sources of revenue if we’re going to have our state survive," said Radcliffe. "China is the market that frankly we’re aiming toward."
"If there’s a license that is sold, we pick up so many millions of dollars and so forth, it’s just an option on the budget side of the equation," said House Speaker, Rep. Calvin Say.
The casino would create about 4,000 jobs and generate about a half-billion dollars in revenue each year, a similar amount that leaves the state for gaming destinations like Las Vegas.
"$550 million that would be over the last 11 years that’s $6 billion plus. If we could have captured just 15 or 20 percent of that we would not be in the shape that we are in the state of Hawaii," said Radcliffe.
Radcliffe says Marketing Resource Group of Michigan is interested in the project. The Ilitch family owns Little Caesar’s Pizza, the Detroit Tigers and Redwings as well as several casinos.