KAPOLEI — The Hawaiian Homes Commission has approved a draft legislative proposal that would allow limited casino gaming in the form of a single integrated resort property in Kapolei, Oʻahu.
In a 5-4 vote on Tuesday the commission approved the item seeking approval of a legislative proposal to authorize limited gaming in the form of a single integrated resort property on state Department of Hawaiian Home Lands designated for commercial use.
Commissioners Michael Kaleikini of Hawaiʻi Island, Russell Kaʻupu and Pauline Namuʻo of Oʻahu, Dennis Neves of Kauaʻi and HHC Chair William J. Aila of O‘ahu voted in favor of the item.
Commissioners Randy Awo of Maui, David Kaʻapu of Hawai‘i Island, Zachary Helm of Molokaʻi and Patricia Teruya of Oʻahu) voted against the proposed measure.
“With the commission’s decision today, we are hopeful that the Hawaiʻi state Legislature will see the urgency of finally addressing the funding shortages of this program,” said DHHL Deputy Director Tyler Iokepa Gomes.
“The measure the department is proposing is bold, but we’re at a pivotal point where bold action is necessary to fulfill the responsibility of the trust,” he said.
”We hear the pleas of beneficiaries across the board, including the need for swift action to move beneficiaries off the waiting list and onto homestead lots. This effort does not shift DHHL’s focus from creating homestead opportunities. Instead, it provides a way forward in terms of an economic solution to face the common denominator for the struggles faced by the department — the opportunity to create adequate funding,” he said.
The draft legislative proposal, upon submission, will be reviewed by the state Department of the Attorney General, the Department of Budget &Finance, and Gov. David Ige for consideration in his legislative packet.
Should the governor include the proposed measure in his packet, the draft legislation would then proceed to be considered by the state Legislature. If the governor chooses not to include it in his packet, the department may seek a legislator to introduce the proposal.
Revenues from this initiative would be used to address DHHL’s dire financial state by ensuring the department is the primary beneficiary of the gaming operation through a land-lease agreement with the licensee and direct collection of 80% of the proposed state tax on gross gaming revenue.
DHHL’s proposal establishes a Hawaiʻi Gaming Commission, along with details that structure the gaming license application, fees and criteria for awarding a license. A wagering tax on gross gaming revenue and a state gaming fund, along with other appropriate funds, would also be established.
The proposed State Gaming Fund is expected to invest in initiatives to address possible increases in crime, gambling addiction and other social issues, as well as provide for public security, job training, traffic improvements and the administrative expenses of the new Gaming Commission.
To view the draft legislation, visit dhhl.hawaii.gov/government-relations.