Presently, Hawaii gambling laws are the strictest in the US. Has the strictness of the law stopped gambling activities in the state? Not quite considering the increasing number of illegal casinos operating in the state, according to various studies.
For instance, did the ban on alcohol stop its sale in the US? Bootleggers and underground markets sprung up.
Before now, the ban on gambling in the state was based on moral grounds centuries ago. Remarkably so, the argument still holds water to date. Many have argued that a well-regulated gambling industry will have a lot of social benefits to the state. They believe that it will eliminate illegal casino houses operating in the state.
Overview of Hawaii’s Gambling Industry
As stated early, gambling in Hawaii is prohibited. As a matter of policy, the only form of gambling approved in the states is social poker. More so, at social poker games, no one makes a profit. So casino communities more or less play for fun.
No form of land-based or online casino gaming is permitted in Hawaii. There is no record of lotteries or bingo games ever played in Hawaii. As far back as the 1800s, betting on horse racing tracks existed in Hawaii but later ended in the 1940s.
Also, the Hawaiian laws on gambling have remained unchanged even after joining the United States in 1959. However, that same year, a bill to reintroduce horse racing on track on the Island of Maui did not see the light of the day. The House of Representatives rejected the bill.
Meanwhile, in 2010, a committee was set up to investigate the viability of casino houses being set in the state. But the recommendation of the committee did not make it to the floor of the House. In 2012, another attempt was made to introduce online poker, but it was never approved.
Even recently, a casino proposal made by the Department of Hawaiian Homelands was also rejected on moral grounds.
Benefits of Legalized Gambling and the Effect on Hawaii
Recently, a lot of arguments have been made for the legalization of casinos and other forms of gambling in the state. Apart from the economic crisis caused by the pandemic, they believe that a well-regulated gambling environment will eliminate illegal gambling houses. Some of the benefits of legalizing include:
- Economy: Considering how robust gambling is, legalizing online gambling sites for real money will improve Hawaii’s financial strength. Also, the dwindling resources of the state could be restored by the legalization of this industry.
- Illegal Gambling: Although the state prohibits any form of gambling for profit, illegal gambling houses are on the rise. Some experts believe that it eliminates these illegal activities.
- Tourism: Revenues from tourism have dwindled drastically because of the pandemic. Also, Hawaii can benefit from gambling as a form of tourism, like Las Vegas and other US cities are known for gambling.
Undoubtedly, gambling has its challenges, but legalizing it presents more advantages for the state than the perceived harm it will cause.
The Continuous Ban on Gambling and the Potential Challenges
According to the Honolulu Police Department (HPD), there are more than 70 to 100 illegal game rooms in Oahu. The HPD believes that these illegal gaming rooms foster crime.
Apart from that, the ban on gambling has given room for these illegal gaming houses to strive. Based on this, it will be difficult to ascertain the exact number of Hawaiians with gambling issues and treat the same.
For instance, it will be difficult for an agency like National Council for Problem Gambling (NCPG) to track people with gambling issues.
The role of the NCPG is solely to administer treatment to people who have gambling issues like addiction and so on. In 2009, the NCPG estimated that about 20,000 people in the state have gambling problems. The NCPG study also reported that Hawaii had allocated $0 for treatment and prevention of gambling-related issues.
Restorative Effect of Legalizing Casinos
One of the stimulating effects of legalizing casinos and gambling in Hawaii is eliminating illegal gaming houses. Also, agencies responsible for social support services can properly care for people with gambling problems.
For example, the ban of alcohol in the United States centuries ago created even more drawbacks and allowed bootlegging to reign supreme. Social problems were still on the rise instead of reducing as expected. However, after the prohibition was lifted and proper monitoring systems were established, society was better for it.
The Future of Gambling in Hawaii
The economic pressure on the Hawaiian economy is enough to push the state government and legislators to approve gambling. From all indications, it does appear that legalizing gambling in Hawaii may not happen anytime soon. You can feel the resistance from the state government and legislators’ body language.