House proposes bill to legalize gambling - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

House proposes bill to legalize gambling

Rep. John Mizuno Rep. John Mizuno
Chief Boisse Correa Chief Boisse Correa

By Zahid Arab - bio | email

HONOLULU (KHNL) - With an economy in crisis, some state lawmakers look at hitting the jackpot by legalizing gambling.

It's a safe bet you or someone you know has made a trip to Las Vegas in hopes of striking it rich.

It's estimated that Hawaii residents drop hundreds of millions in "Sin City" and that has House leaders questioning why all that money can't stay right here.

Gambling is so popular in the state, Las Vegas often called the its ninth island. But, as a potential state constitutional amendment to legalize gambling may be in the cards for Hawaii, some say it's a bust.

The glitz and glamour of gambling. Known for making millionaires or putting people in the poorhouse. But hey, at least there's that 99-cent shrimp cocktail.

But from the blackjack table to the legislative table, House Representative john Mizuno, along with Speaker Emeritus Joseph Souki are introducing a bill that would bring the "bling" and luck of Las Vegas to Hawaii.

"Approximately 750 million dollars is spent or left in Las Vegas," said Rep. John Mizuno.

While not taking a stance, Mizuno offers gambling as a possible solution to balance the state's budget, putting the benefits and burden of trying to win big before the people.

"Weigh in and provide testimony so that the legislators can make a wise decision," said Mizuno.

"We will oppose any kind of measure that brings gambling into our community," said Honolulu Police Chief Boisse Correa.

Honolulu Police gives a scope of the problems that may come with the pass time.

"It'll just bring in crime, corruption and social changes that we may not want to exist in our jurisdiction," said Correa.

"There are some people at my church that say this may lead to criminal activity. I've got some people in the tourist industry that say this will be a big economic boom," said Mizuno.

While House leaders deal the documents to legalize gambling, where it lands, no one knows.

If the gambling amendment makes it out of the House and Senate, Governor Linda Lingle can sign it into law as early as May. But, that's a big "if."

At 8%, Hawaii has the lowest bill passage rate in the nation.

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