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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, February 19, 2010

Readers weigh in on legalized-gambling debate

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser
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Many local people spend hard-earned money to travel to Las Vegas to gamble. I do not see any problem with letting them stay home and keep the money here — along with that of some tourists.

In Delaware, they have horse racing and the money supports the schools. We could surely use more funding for our schools here so that kids could have a school day and a school week that is the proper length. The current short school days and weeks and numerous holidays are unacceptable.

We are supposed to have a separation of church and state, so our legislators should not bow to organized religionists.

nancy bey little | Makiki


Before approving casinos in Hawai'i, take a look at the fiasco going on in Pennsylvania over casinos.

It started out with horse racing and OTB betting and progressed to slot machines at selected race tracks.

Bordering states West Virginia and New Jersey upped the ante and approved table gaming, and Pennsylvania had to do the same.

That's what will happen here. The casinos will continue to grow, adding more types of games. We're only fooling ourselves if we believe the state or the local Hawaiians are going to get the lion's share of the money. The corporations operating the casino will get most of the profits with a trickle going to the state coffers or Hawaiians. Once the casinos get in, they're here to stay.

For some, gambling is a problem. In Pennsylvania, people place themselves on a voluntary barred list where the casinos cannot allow them to enter under penalty of law. In the military clubs in Japan are signs in the slot machine rooms giving the signs of gambling addiction and the address of Gamblers Anonymous. What will we do here, send them to the back-door gambling consortium in Chinatown?

Jim Guest | Makakilo


The total hypocrisy of the gaming/gambling debate is hard to swallow. How can there even be a debate? We love gambling and we might even generate a little extra tax money.

Yet here come the hypocrites. When tens, maybe hundreds, of thousands of people from Hawai'i go to Las Vegas each year, that's OK — that's fun.

But when the talk starts about casinos in Hawai'i, "Oh no, horrors, we will have crime and corrupt our children spoil our pristine environment."

Some advocate restricting it to Hawaiian Homelands only. That's hypocritical also and undermines previous promises of no "Hawaiian reservation" casinos.

Is there something wrong about being honest with ourselves for a change? I've got it: Let's build casinos, but under the elevated train tracks.

Paul Tyksinski | Kailua


I loved The Advertiser's gambling pro/con columns in the Focus section (Feb. 14).

Because pro-casino people are banking on tourists to play their games, I thought it was necessary for me, a tourist, to speak up.

When I choose Hawai'i, I am choosing to experience relaxing sandy beaches, beautiful hotels, great restaurants, the best beginner surfing, hiking, whale watching and an ideal climate.

I'm not choosing smoke-filled, booze-drenched craps tables. I also don't think you want to attract that type of tourist to Hawai'i because their existence is diametrically opposed to Native Hawaiian core values.

Paradise will always be marketable and gambling will not. Gambling has no place in paradise.

Gambling is like a drug for governments. It delivers a short-term high of five to seven years, sometimes more, with great cash flow and then it leaves the government in a hung-over stupor until the high is once again achieved by adding more casinos, or remedied by a terrible stint in rehab.

Dear Hawai'i, please focus on long-term prosperity and sustainability; please don't wager these great Islands on a roll of the dice.

derek meier | Chicago


As someone who has visited Las Vegas and lived there from 2000 to 2003, I believe that legalized gambling could benefit the state if done right.

First, there needs to be a strong regulatory commission to oversee the industry. Nevada does that through its gaming commission, and Hawai'i should copy the example.

Second, there needs to be competition. I propose at least two but not more than three casinos/sports books. Any monopoly tends to become complacent.

Yes, personalities prone to addiction could become habitual gamblers. But gambling exists in Hawai'i now, untaxed and unregulated.

Nevada has no personal income tax, thanks to the gaming tax. And nongaming revenue has surpassed gaming revenue. That means tourists are spending more on entertainment, restaurants and shopping than on gambling.

Gambling is human nature. Why else would hordes of Hawai'i people endure five hours cooped up in an airplane to fly to Las Vegas multiple times per year? For many retirees, such as my father who has difficulty walking, one of the few pleasures in life is sitting down and playing a slot machine or a table game. My father and I would certainly prefer to play in Hawai'i.

Carlton Saito | Mo'ili'ili


When I was a youngster, gambling was legal in only two places, Nevada and two counties in Maryland. I lived in one of those counties, close to a Navy base. To this day I can't forget the scene of Navy wives lining up on payday to pump their husband's meager earnings into one-armed bandits. Even at that young age I was aware that gambling is a cancer on society.

So what we have now is a Legislature, having come out of the closet where they were cowering from civil unions, only to inflict this cancer on our beloved land of aloha. I could not be more disgusted with them.

RICK Lloyd | Honolulu