The Department of Hawaiian Home Lands (DHHL) will use SB 1312 as the basis of future legalization of gambling. The DHHL has until 2026 to pass legislation successfully.
Gambling Coming to Hawaii: Sooner or Later
Hawaiian legislators have more or less agreed on a framework for the gambling industry. During a Senate Committee on Hawaiian Affairs hearing, they promoted the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands (DHHL) to the body in charge of gambling legalization.
Pushed via SB 1312 and faced with some opposition, gambling in Hawaii is not a shoo-in just yet. Rather, the DHHL will have to seek a way to introduce the activity by December 2026. Meanwhile, Committee chair William J Aila Jr welcomed the proposed changes to SB 1321. He agreed that the DHHL should be the one introducing regulated gambling in the state.
Should the industry be regulated under DHHL’s umbrella that would provide the department with a steady revenue source to fund the development of homestead lots, which would go to the indigenous population. Many people have been waiting for homes for years now, but the introduction of casinos and the potential revenue thereof is a way to push for quicker development.
The development budget is currently in the red. The DHHL believes that bringing casinos and gaming is the quickest and most reliable way forward. The department hopes to see the state’s 28,000 native residents get homestead leases. To make sure that it develops the lots, the department would need to pay $6 trillion in costs. A price tag that is not easy to chip away at.
Expediting Home Construction Process
Expediting the process is paramount. Residents would need to wait another 100 years by early estimations to see their lots developed at current rates. The process can be hopefully shortened by the introduction of additional revenue. The gaming framework DHHL is to push might include the introduction of a casino resort to boost tourism and gaming revenue.
So, right now the DHHL really has two choices. One is to seek and use public land for a casino project. The other one is to use its native land. If the DHHL wants to build multiple casinos across the island state, it would need a super majority. That means two-thirds of the votes in the legislature to pass the bill and see a more rapid expansion of casino projects.
As 2026 is set as the deadline, proponents of SB 1312 may yet find terms to negotiate the right business model. In Japan, for example, casino gambling would be limited to foreigners only.
With Hawaii one of the world’s most preferred traveling destinations, it’s not too difficult to imagine transforming the state into a gaming hub in the Pacific Ocean. The project will face some opposition that is certain.