Hawaii Casino Bill Dies in House Committee, Lottery Still Up for Consideration

  • House Bill 359 was deferred by Representative Sean Quinlan
  • The bill would have created a casino with funds aiding the housing needs of Native Hawaiians
  • Senate Bill 816, which would create a state lottery, is still on the table
  • Funds from the lottery would benefit education
Hula doll on dashboard
A casino bill in Hawaii has been deferred by the House while a bill to create a state lottery will be considered this week. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Attempt at gambling expansion

Lawmakers in the Aloha State are currently looking at various ways to bring in new revenue streams, one of which includes legalizing gambling. A Hawaii casino bill was under consideration this week, only to stall in a House Committee. House Bill 359 would have created a casino near Kapolei with the goal of generating funds for thousands of Hawaiians to move onto ancestral lands.

On Wednesday, a Senate Committee will consider Senate Bill 816, which would set up a state lottery in Hawaii. The lottery would start as early as January 2022. Funds from the lottery would benefit public and university education needs.

Hawaiian casino bill deferred

Representative Sean Quinlan is the House Economic Development Committee chairman who chose to defer House Bill 359. The purpose of the bill was to legalize casino gambling and create a resort venue near Kapolei. Funds generated from the property would help Native Hawaiians to build homes in the area.

The effort has created a division between the Hawaiian Home Lands Commission and the Native Hawaiian community. Quinlan deferred the measure after listening to testimony from law enforcement officials in Honolulu who were opposed to the idea. The Department of Hawaiian Home Lands officials testified in support of the measure.

Supporters feel that a casino is the best way to generate millions in revenues to clear up a long list of individuals waiting for land and home construction in Hawaii.

deferral was not the ideal outcome for the House measure, but the group is still hopeful

Senate Bill 1321 is a companion bill to the House measure. The Senate Hawaiian Affairs Committee will consider this bill on Thursday. Hawaiian Homes Commission chairman William J. Aila, Jr. stated the deferral was not the ideal outcome for the House measure, but the group is still hopeful.

The chairman stated further that there are no other proposals presently under consideration that would offer the scale of funding that could help the shortfall seen in home and land issues for Native Hawaiians.

Lottery legislation

Also under consideration is a bill to legalize a state lottery. Senate Bill 816 will be considered by the Senate Education Committee tomorrow. The bill would create a Lottery Commission, a state lottery account, and a lottery administration account.

The measure would set up a task force from the Department of Accounting and General Services. This group would review the creation and sustainability of a Hawaiian lottery. Lottery proceeds would go primarily toward university and public education funding.

If the bill can pass this week, it must also pass a joint committee in the Senate Judiciary and Ways and Means. The House must also provide approval along with the governor. 

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