HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Nationally recognized gambling opponent John Kindt stood in the State Capitol rotunda, backed by Honolulu's mayor, police and others who want legalized gambling kept out of the state.
"Gambling is a lose-lose in particular for Hawaii because it's an island economy," Kindt said. "There's nowhere for the gambling to go except internally in raiding the public coffers and raiding the local populace."
Kindt is a University of Illinois professor. He has testified before Congress on gambling issues. He said statistics show gambling hurts low-income groups and increases taxes to pay for new social problems caused by gaming.
Peter Carlisle said as a prosecutor he dealt with gambling's tie to crime.
"If you take a look at the crime that it creates, if you take a look at the social ills that it creates, it has people who are stealing from their children's educational funds," he said.
But Sen. Malama Solomon supports some form of gaming. She said it could generate up to $600 million in annual revenue, help fund Native Hawaiian programs and create jobs.
"We can start to really look at increasing our revenues to be able to support the kind of services that are demanded by our residents as well as lower their tax burden," she said.
Kindt said studies by a federal commission in 1999 recommended no further expansion of gambling in the U.S.
"We've done follow-up volumes every year, 1,000-page volumes, which says it's getting worse and worse and worse because some states are ignoring the federal commission," he said.
Solomon disagrees with Kindt. She is also at odds with lawmakers who believe legalized gambling has no shot at passing this session.
"I've heard all of the arguments," she said. "But I really look upon it as an economic issue."
The legislature is sorting through 29 gambling bills.