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Gambling Unlikely to be Legalized in Hawaii

Given the tough current economic situation, some legislators are searching for new ways to bring money to the table, and legalising gambling is one of the avenues being explored for Hawaii and Utah.

Currently the only two states in America that don’t have any form of legalised gambling are Hawaii and Utah and the benefits it could bring to the economy are proving to be tempting.

According to Donna Mercado Kim, State Senator, Moanalua and Aiea, “If we could get visitors, seven million of our visitors to drop 2, 3, 4, 10 dollars into a machine that's a whole lot of income coming into the state.”

However, not everyone supports the bill introduced by Mercado Kim which would legalise slot machines and video poker in licensed premises and airports. Professor John Warren Kindt from the University of Illinois, who has studied the effects of gambling for 20 years says, “People need to realize this is not a quick fix, it sounds like it's a quick fix, but it's not going to work in the short term and it’s definitely going to hurt in the long term.”

Fierce opposition from the Hawaii Coalition Against Legalized Gambling has resulted in them flying over Professor Kindt to educate people about the problems associated with gambling, including addiction, bankruptcy and crime.

But the bill does not look likely to be passed as Mercado Kim admits, "I don't believe it's going to go anywhere. I don't believe there is the will or the support for it at this point in time," she confesses. "But again, this is just one more option on the table and it's not a popular option at this point but who knows what's going to happen in the future."

Kayley Almond
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