Most governor hopefuls oppose legalized gambling
By Kevin Dayton
Advertiser Capitol Bureau Chief
Four of the five major candidates for governor said yesterday that they oppose any plan to legalize gambling in Hawai'i, with only Democrat D.G. "Andy" Anderson saying he is "open" to gaming.
Republicans Linda Lingle and John Carroll and Democrat Ed Case told an audience at the Small Business Hawaii Conference that they all oppose legalized gambling.
Honolulu Mayor Jeremy Harris, a Democrat, did not attend the forum because he was ill, his staff said. However Rick Tsujimura, co-chairman of the Harris 2002 campaign, said Harris also opposes legalized gaming.
Anderson, a former Honolulu managing director and former chairman of the Hawai'i Republican Party, said he doesn't think gambling is an issue that should frighten people or should be "prejudged."
"To sit here and prejudge it because it sounds good with you politically is wrong," he said. "I want to hear it. I want to see the numbers. I want to see the impact. I want to understand the social impact if there is any."
He said he would never support "Vegas-type gambling," with slot machines at stores or the airport. But "just maybe" a single casino makes sense, and lawmakers should debate the issue this year, he said.
"The way we've treated gambling in this town, for some reason, the governor had to sneak off to the Bahamas under the guise of an aquarium to look at gambling," Anderson said. "That's not right. I don't think a governor should ever be afraid to put an issue, no matter how controversial, on his or her desk, and discuss it openly and debate it. That's what he gets paid for, or she gets paid for."
Gov. Ben Cayetano visited Sun International Hotels Ltd.'s Atlantis Resort and its casino at Paradise Island in the Bahamas in December 2000. Cayetano initially said he was looking at the resort's aquarium, billed as the largest in the world, but said later that he also talked to hotel executives about Sun's proposal for a casino in Hawai'i.
The House Judiciary Committee is expected to hold hearings on at least one gambling measure late this month or early next month, but House leaders have said they do not believe that any gambling proposal has the votes to pass.
Lingle, the former Maui mayor and chairwoman of the Hawai'i Republican Party, said legalized gambling would "have an extremely negative impact on Hawai'i's families and also have a negative impact on the business community."
She also said the legalizing of gambling "would change our image and the perception people have of us forever, and I don't think we'll ever get that back."
Carroll, a lawyer, pilot and former state senator, said that if he were governor, he would veto any measure legalizing gambling.
"I see it as a dead-end street I think it's very bad for the community," he said. "I would be totally against it."
But Carroll said the state should reconsider its ban on cockfighting and the illicit gambling that accompanies cockfighting "perhaps to accommodate some of the cultural problems that we have within the community."
State Rep. Case, D-23rd (Manoa), called gambling "a false god from the point of view of economic vitality" and said he is concerned about its social effects.
A forum for the candidates for mayor was also held at the conference at the Ala Moana Hotel. Democrats Keith Kaneshiro and Mufi Hannemann and Republican Frank Fasi attended that forum.
Lt. Gov. Mazie Hirono and City Councilman Duke Bainum, who are both Democrats, did not attend.
Reach Kevin Dayton at email@example.com or 525-8070.