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LWV-Hawaii Legislative Testimony

HB 2788

Relating to

House Committee on Tourism (TOU) - chair: Tom Brower, vice chair: James Kunane Tokioka

Monday, February 13, 2012, 9:15 a.m. Room 312

Testifier: Grace Furukawa, Representing the League of Women Voters of Hawaii

Click here to view HB2788

My name is Grace Furukawa, from the League of Women Voters of Hawaii and I am testifying AGAINST this bill. The League has opposed all forms of gambling since its own study on this subject was completed in 1998. A casino in Waikiki or elsewhere is opening Hawaii to the scourge of gambling throughout the state. Setting up a commission to oversee the gambling will not necessarily save us from crime and corruption that will come in its wake, as our Mayor and Police Department will testify. The examples from other states have shown this to be true.

This casino, free standing, will have bars and restaurants along with card games and slot machines and other forms of gambling. This alone will take the discretionary money of tourists and citizens from those businesses outside and send most of the profits to the mainland owners. Slot machines alone are the “crack cocaine” of gambling and promises to cause the loss of one job from small business a year. The tourist money we count on for taxes etc. will be lost from any business in the community. Casinos are built with an easy entry but difficult to get out of. They want to keep people in them as long as possible. In Waikiki alone there will be congestion and parking problems. The ambiance of Hawaii as a place of beauty, sports and a place for families will be lost.

In opposing this bill I appeal to all legislators to not bring into Hawaii something that is so difficult to get rid of and which will change the affect of Hawaii forever. Legislators should heed the advice of the National Gambling Impact Study Commission and the DBEDT Economic Impact Study, both of which advise against the expansion of gambling. Mahalo for hearing this testimony.


The Hawaii Coalition Against Legalized Gambling opposes the establishment of a casino for the following reasons:
• The gaming industry provides statistics on revenue and job creation which ought to be viewed skeptically since the industry has so much to gain.
• Legislators focus on revenue, not on costs. Many costs are not easily measured, but increasingly, studies from academics and other non-vested sources are available. They are seldom sought.
• Because there is no legal gambling in Hawaii, people do not see its destructive social effects and tend to dismiss them.
• Many dollars of revenue would flow out-of-state to owners, managers, consultants, service and equipment providers.
• Casinos damage and displace existing businesses.
• A casino will attract workers from gambling venues in other states. These workers are most often unskilled workers with low income. Hawaii does not need more people in that demographic.
• Construction dollar inflow is short-term; costs to the state continue over the long term.
• Establishing 100% secure and effective regulation and oversight is expensive and extremely difficult. Poor regulation is costly and may tarnish Hawaii’s reputation.
• A casino will not keep Hawaii at home. Attracted by its glitter and excitement, Hawaii residents will continue traveling to Las Vegas and gambling there. Hawaii cannot duplicate the unique aura of Las Vegas.
• A casino will not attract substantial numbers of new visitors, nor will existing visitors increase their travel budgets significantly to include casino play.
• The “amenity” of offering visitors and residents another form of entertainment does not offset the dangers of changing Hawaii’s image and fostering risk for addictive behavior.
• Government decisions should not be driven only by fiscal concerns. Long-considered decisions with major social impacts should not be made in a period of economic hardship.
• Government should not condone and encourage activities harmful to its people. Citizens expect their government to protect their well-being, both psychological and financial.
• Hawaii is a special situation, unique as to location, culture and appeal. The legislature has long resisted the lure of increased revenue at the expense of growing social problems. By opening the state to even one casino operation, the legislature opens the state to multiple gaming operations. Experience has shown that on the Mainland, expansion becomes the order of the day once one type of gambling is legal.
• Legislators should heed the advice of the National Gambling Impact Study dommission and the DBEDT Economic Impacts Study, both of which advise against the expansion of gambling.

Hawaii Coalition Against Legalized Gambling
1124 Fort Street Mall, Suite 209
Honolulu, HI 96813
Phone/fax 524-7766 Email hcala@hcalp.org website www.hcalg.org
February 2012


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