Gilbert Keith-Agaran (D-Kahului), Hawaii state Senator is repeating a plan to bring a lottery to a state which has one of the most anti-gambling stances in the US.
In the newly started legislative session, the legislator proposed Senate Bill 2669 (SB 2669) and his Senate Bill 850 (SB 850) was carried over from last year. The two bills are basically identical, with the latest being co-sponsored by Sen. Dru Kanuha (D-Kona).
According to a summary of the proposal, “SB 2669 establishes the Hawaii lottery and gaming corporation for the purpose of conducting gambling in Hawaii.”
The legislation, if approved, would also direct “proceeds to capital improvements at public schools and the University of Hawaii system, scholarships and educational loan repayments for medical students who practice in Hawaii for ten years, support for the family practice rural residency program, watershed protection, and reduction and prevention of problem gambling.”
As reported by casino.org, Keith-Agaran’s proposal would establish the Hawaii Lottery and Gaming Corporation, which would act as the supervisory agency for legitimate gaming activity across the state. As is the norm with politicians in other states pressing gaming expansion, Keith-Agaran is intending to direct lottery cash toward education in the Aloha State.
Assuming SB 2669 is signed into law, the gaming corporation would direct a quarter of proceeds to shore up education shortfalls, 20 percent for Hawaii Department of Education (DOE) enhancements, and another 20 percent would be directed to the University of Hawaii for capital improvements, reports The Hawaii Tribune-Herald.
10 off the remaining 35 percent, would be directed to scholarships and student loan repayment for medical school graduates who agree to practice in Hawaii for a decade at least, and another 10 percent would be allotted to rural medical initiatives.
Another 15 percent would be devoted to environmental projects, administrative costs, and programs for problem gamblers.
Long Journey Ahead
Hawaii is one of only two states – the other being Utah – which has no type of legalized gambling. This is not the first time an attempt was made to bring a lottery and scratchers to the island state. It has been tried in numerous legislative sessions dating back multiple decades, only to be thwarted every time.
It’s broadly believed that even if a lottery bill is accepted in both houses of the state’s legislature, which would be no small achievement, Gov. David Ige (D-HI) would refuse it when it comes to him.
Ige has long argued against a lottery and other forms of gambling as a means of boosting state receipts because, in his view, startup costs are significant and the money residents would spend on lotto tickets would be pulled from other parts of the economy, providing no net benefit.
It’s a familiar buzzword in smaller states with restricted gambling options where some politicians are looking for expansion.
Lawmakers aren’t shy about pressing for casinos, lotteries or sports betting, among other connected activities; however, politicians from both parties are often unwilling to buck a state’s long history of anti- or limited gambling attitudes.