Report raises risks of gambling in Hawai`i while gaming proponents continue to push gambling in the legislature

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The Hawai`i Appleseed Center for Law and Economic Justice has released the attached report entitled “Gambling With Paradise: The Effect of Gambling on Low-Income Individuals, Families, and Communities.”

For years, the gaming lobby has pushed hard to legalize gambling and this legislative session is no different. More than ten pro-gambling bills were introduced this session, including proposals for a lottery, a Waikiki casino, shipboard gambling, and even a horse track. Although each of these bills failed, the push for legalized gambling continues. On Friday, the House Committee on Economic Development & Business will consider a resolution to create a gambling task force to examine bringing gambling to Hawai`i.


As detailed in the Gambling With Paradise report, the issue has already been exhaustively studied. Gambling poses significant risks to Hawai`i in general, and its low-income residents in particular:

  • Low-income people spend higher percentages of their income on gambling and lottery tickets than the rest of the population. The tax revenues generated by gambling would disproportionately come out of the pockets of those that can least afford it.
  • Gambling will likely cannibalize existing businesses. Gambling is unlikely to draw additional visitors given the expense of travel to Hawai`i and the abundance of cheaper, well-established gambling destinations. Money spent on gambling will be money that would have otherwise been spent on existing businesses. The introduction of gambling may even reduce overall tourism, as recognized in a resolution recently adopted by the Hawai`i Tourism Authority, expressing concern that legalized gambling runs counter to our Aloha Spirit and could in fact turn visitors away.
  • The presence of legalized gambling will, unsurprisingly, increase the number of Hawai‘i residents who gamble. Individuals who live within ten miles of a casino have more than twice the rate of pathological or problem gambling as those who live further away. Excessive gambling is associated with a variety of costly social problems, including job loss, substance abuse, crime, divorce, child abuse and neglect, domestic violence, and homelessness.
  • Casinos have been shown empirically to increase the rates of serious crime including rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, larceny, and auto theft.
  • Casino gambling can harm our economic well-being and is estimated to cause up to $289 in social costs for every $46 of economic benefit.

In spite of these well-documented problems, states throughout the nation have succumbed to the allure of big revenue projections from gambling, only to find them to be grossly overestimated.[1] Friday’s hearing on the gambling task force resolution will determine whether Hawai`i will start heading down the same path.

For additional information, contact Gavin Thornton or Jenny Lee of Hawai`i Appleseed Center for Law & Economic Justice by email at / or by phone at 587-7605.

Submitted by the Hawai`i Appleseed Center for Law and Economic Justice (, a group that advocates on behalf of low-income people in Hawai`i to help them gain access to the resources, services, and fair treatment that they need to realize their opportunities for self-achievement and economic security.


[1] See Capital Gazette, Gambling revenue promises often fall short of reality, Dec. 24, 2012 (available at; and Statehouse Bureau, Down on its luck: Revel jobs, revenue falling below projections, Aug. 16, 2012 (





  1. Criminals tend to like gambling. Often new casinos lower community crime by keeping the criminals occupied — at least for a while. When they tire of the novelty, they might return to community crime; when gamblers tire of gambling, they return to other activities — sometimes with more debt then they would like. In any event, the relationship between gambling and social costs is much more complex than this article suggests.

  2. Sure, everyone loves to gamble . . . if they win. But, the person sitting next to you in church, the man in line at the grocery store, or one of your co-workers; any one of these could be involved with a gambling problem. Imagine your grandmother committing a crime to support her gambling addiction. I am a recovering alcoholic, gambler, and have recovered from other addictive behaviors. I published a book, Gripped by Gambling, where the readers can follow the destructive path of the compulsive gambler, a prison sentence, and then on to the recovery road.

    I also publish a free online newsletter, Women Helping Women, which has been on-line for more than twelve years and is read by hundreds of women (and men) from around the world. ( I have been interviewed many times, and appeared on the 60 Minutes show in January 2011, which was moderated by Leslie Stahl.


    Marilyn Lancelot

  3. if we are really concerned about low income people,low income familiies,single moms: let's do the right thing,let's repeal the GET tax for starters.let's work simplifying our tax codes,reduce overlapping regulations,get rid of the things that are already on the books and which are a crushing burden on the poor.reduce spending.decriminalize marijuana sale and possession to reduce poor people populating the prison system.alot we can do.

  4. if were genuinely concerned about low earnings individuals, low earnings familiies, sole parents: let's do the right thing, let's repeal your ACQUIRE place a burden on for starters. let's operate simplifying your place a burden on requirements, reduce overlapping polices, get rid of the stuff that already are within the guides as well as which can be a new mashing weight within the poor. reduce paying. decriminalize pot sales as well as control to scale back poor people populating your penitentiary process. a lot we can easily do.

  5. Gambling is never good. it can ruin a lot of lives when it gets out of control and making it legal just give that needed incentive

  6. Hey, just wanted to know if this site is in the UK? If you are in the United Kingdom where? By the way, one, I liked your blog a only a blog from one direction, and I continue to read!

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