Bill to establish a state lottery passes first hurdle in a long, uphill battle

Generic Lottery Ticket
Generic Lottery Ticket(File Image)
Published: Feb. 10, 2021 at 9:27 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Less than a week after shutting down a proposed casino in Leeward Oahu, lawmakers on Wednesday advanced a bill to launch a state lottery instead.

The Senate Education Committee voted four to one on SB816, which would allow statewide gambling in the form of a lottery.

It would establish a commission to determine how the lottery would work, including how tickets are bought, the payouts of jackpots, and who would be eligible to play. 

All profit from the lottery would go to benefit schools. But those opposed had the same concerns as they did with the casino: It would lead to increased poverty among at-risk members of the community.

“Lotteries throughout the country — the highest users are the poorest people, minorities, and people with the least amount of money, which lead to a lot of society problems,” said Philip Johnson of the Honolulu Police Department.

The bill doesn’t call for Hawaii to join in the existing multi-state lotteries run on the mainland, such as the popular Powerball and Mega Millions.

The bill faces another hearing in the senate, but even if it advances, it is not likely to survive a vote in the House.

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