Posted tagged ‘gambling’

Poker bill bets on a flop

March 28, 2011

A bill to make Hawai‘i a mecca for live and online poker tournaments seems to be the last gasp of gambling advocates in the Legislature after the apparent failure of of casinos in Waikiki, shipboard gambling, bingo on Hawaiian Homes lands and other gaming measures.

SB 755, which originally passed the Senate as a measure to help kids buy school supplies before being gutted by two House committees, is probably a non-starter in terms of attracting significant poker business to Hawai‘i.

Trying to pass off poker as a game of skill rather than gambling is dubious, the vigorish for the state that legislators are demanding from poker promoters appears exorbitant and the interstate commerce issues are tricky.

But if the bill passes, it’ll no longer be said that Hawai‘i is one of only two states without gambling, which will provide a foot in the door that gives more hope to promoters of other forms of gambling.

Gaming advocates are seizing on the panic that the crisis in Japan will drive the Hawai‘i economy back into deep recession and further deplete state revenues.

But the fact is that any gambling operation would take years to start generating significant revenue and would contribute absolutely nothing to solving our current woes.

Not to mention that gambling is a poor economic hedge against recession. Nevada, which depends more on gambling than any other state, has been one of the hardest hit. Do legislators seriously think that Japanese who are staying home as their country recovers from a devastating blow, would come if we had slot machines?

Gambling would change the fabric of our local society and reshape our visitor industry in ways we don’t fully understand.

If we go there, it should be after careful consideration in calmer times — not as an opportunistic quick hit by those lacking real ideas for digging out of our economic sinkhole.

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