House committee talks slot machines and video poker

Carl Kinsey
Carl Kinsey
Joe Souki
Joe Souki

By Jim Mendoza - bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Carl and Lanette Kinsey escaped the snow in Illinois for R & R on Waikiki beach. They said if they wanted to gamble, they'd go to Las Vegas.

"Everybody comes here for the sun and the water and atmosphere. I think that would create an atmosphere that would not fit in," Lanette Kinsey said.

The House Tourism Committee is testing the temperature of House Bill 394 that calls for amending the state constitution so slot machines and video poker would be legal in Waikiki.

Rep. Joe Souki introduced the measure. He said the gaming would bring in much needed dollars.

"Our revenue stream gets smaller. Our needs increase," he said.

The measure would limit the gaming sites to designated resort areas in Waikiki. It stipulates they could not be seen from the street.

"I don't think I would necessarily come to Hawaii to gamble. But if it was here I think it would be something fun to do," Milwaukee resident Marcus Wenzel said.

"This is not a creative solution. This creates a tremendous amount of social and related issues. This is not the way to do it," said Violet Horvath of the Hawaii Coalition Against Legalized Gambling.

Waikiki resident Reg White told the committee activities tourists now enjoy like dinner cruises, sightseeing and shows would take a back seat to video poker or playing the slots.

"Because then people are not out and about, spending money, going out to see Hawaii and appreciate the things we have to offer," he said.

But proponents of the measure believe tourism and military spending need another revenue stream.

"Where they have been quite efficient money drivers, they have never been sufficient enough," Souki said.

The committee deferred a vote on the bill until Monday.

They'll decide if video poker and slot machines move a step closer to setting up shop in Waikiki.

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