Tuesday, January 24, 2012

But 54% Think Gambling in Hawaii Would Have Overall Negative Impact


Three-quarters of people in a new survey say they would visit an entertainment center in Waikiki that had showrooms, movie theaters and a casino.

The Waikiki Improvement Association paid for the survey to measure local perceptions about the state's primary tourism destination. The results will likely be used to reinforce arguments by gaming interests that the state should legalize gambling.

Hawaii and Utah are the only two states without some form of gambling. Several proposals, including a Waikiki casino, have been floated at the Legislature without success.

The survey, conducted among 1,000 people statewide by SMS Research & Marketing Services, found that 76 percent would be very or somewhat likely to visit an entertainment center with a casino developed in Waikiki. The survey was taken by telephone between Nov. 15 and Dec. 22. The margin of error was 3.1 percentage points...

People who responded to the survey were divided about the merits of legalizing gambling. Fifty-eight percent said they believe gambling would be positive for the state's economy. But 54 percent think gambling would have a negative impact overall.

Many people who favor a casino are lifelong residents, according to the survey, while many opposed have lived in the islands for less than five years.

Egged said the Waikiki Improvement Association has not taken a position on gambling and is not advocating any specific casino development project.

State House and Senate leaders have said that they expect gambling bills to be debated but doubt legislation to legalize gambling would pass this session.

"There's enough to do in Waikiki without a casino," said state Senate Majority Leader Brickwood Galuteria (D, Downtown-Waikiki). "But the question of gaming is not going to go away."

State Rep. Tom Brower (D, Waikiki-Ala Moana), chairman of the House Tourism Committee, said lawmakers should be open to a discussion about a Waikiki casino. He said he has visited well-executed casinos in Singapore, Macau and the Philippines.

"In order to compete, I think we have to consider gambling," he said. (Complete Story)

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