(BIVN) – In a 5-4 vote on Tuesday, December 22, the Hawaiian Homes Commission voted to approve a draft Legislative proposal that would allow casino gaming on Hawaiian Home Lands.
The authorization is limited to a single, integrated resort property on lands designated for commercial use in Kapolei, Oʻahu.
Commissioners Randy Awo (Maui), David Kaʻapu (West Hawaiʻi), Zachary Helm (Molokaʻi), and Patricia Teruya (Oʻahu) voted against the proposed measure. Commissioners Michael Kaleikini (East Hawaiʻi), Russell Kaʻupu (Oʻahu), Pauline Namuʻo (Oʻahu), Dennis Neves (Kauaʻi), and HHC Chair William J. Ailā were yes votes.
“With the Commission’s decision today, we are hopeful that the Hawaiʻi State Legislature will see the urgency of finally addressing the funding shortages of this program,” said Deputy Tyler Iokepa Gomes in a news release. “The measure the Department is proposing is bold but we’re at a pivotal point where bold action is necessary to fulfill the responsibility of the trust. We hear the pleas of beneficiaries across the board including the need for swift action to move beneficiaries off the Waiting List and onto homestead lots. This effort does not shift DHHL’s focus from creating homestead opportunities, instead, it provides a way forward in terms of an economic solution to face the common denominator for the struggles faced by the Department – the opportunity to create adequate funding.”
The draft proposal may be included in the Governor’s Legislative packet for the upcoming session. Or, if the Governor declines to include it, DHHL may seek a Legislator to introduce the proposal.
From the DHHL:
Revenues from this initiative would be used to address DHHL’s dire financial state by ensuring the Department is the primary beneficiary of the gaming operation through a land lease agreement with the licensee and direct collection of 80 percent of the proposed state tax on gross gaming revenue.
DHHL’s proposal establishes a Hawaiʻi Gaming Commission, along with details that structure the gaming license application, fees, and criteria for awarding a license. A wagering tax on gross gaming revenue and a State gaming fund, along with other appropriate funds, are also established.
The proposed State Gaming Fund is expected to invest in initiatives to address possible increases in crime, gambling addiction, and other social issues, as well as provide for public security, job training, traffic improvements, and the administrative expenses of the new Gaming Commission.
The draft legislation is available online.