S.C.R. NO.














URGING THE GOVERNOR TO request the department of business, economic Development, and tourism AND DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH to establish a gambling task force to develop an evidence-based framework with AN appraisal of the resources necessary to ensure the public's health and safety and mitigate gambling-related harm in order to guide FUTURE gambling legislation IN THE STATE OF HAWAII.



        WHEREAS, in the face of an unprecedented and historic budget shortfall as a result of the ongoing coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, the State of Hawaii must seek alternative means of revenue by continuing to diversify and expand its economy; and


        WHEREAS, legalized gambling in Hawaii remains a popular idea and resurfaces in some form in nearly every legislative session as a mechanism to generate additional state revenues to maintain important social programs, create jobs, expand economic growth, and to help Hawaii compete in an increasingly competitive global tourism market; and


        WHEREAS, presently, Hawaii is one of only two states in the country to have an outright ban on all forms of gambling, along with Utah, while all other states permit legal gambling in some form or another, whether it be charitable games, state lotteries, or other games; and


        WHEREAS, there is also strong opposition to legalized gambling in Hawaii based on concerns that it would negatively impact the public's health and safety based on gambling's addictive effect and other potential harms that may arise, including impacts on lower-income individuals, implications of sex trafficking, domestic violence, increased criminal activity, increased high school drop-out rates, and undesirable tourism effects; and


        WHEREAS, to date opposition to legalized gambling has resulted in the swift rejection and dismissal of ideas and proposals before there is an adequate opportunity to debate and discuss the efficacy of allowing regulated gambling in Hawaii; and


        WHEREAS, it is important to protect the people of Hawaii from harm, as the people are a valuable natural resource and should be protected like any of Hawaii's delicate ecosystems; and


        WHEREAS, it is also important to achieve a more productive and advanced discourse on whether Hawaii should pursue legalized gambling by examining public health and safety concerns, which will also lower the bureaucratic burden by ensuring that any steps toward legalized gambling are scientific and data-driven; now, therefore,


        BE IT RESOLVED by the Senate of the Thirty-first Legislature of the State of Hawaii, Regular Session of 2021, the House of Representatives concurring, that the Department of Business, Economic Development, and Tourism and the Department of Health are requested to convene a gambling task force to develop an evidence-based research and policy framework that will guide future policy and decision-making surrounding legalizing gambling in Hawaii to address the following:


        (1)   An assessment of the negative impacts of gambling before and after initiation of legalized gambling to include a baseline prevalence study to establish the current state of gambling along the spectrum from recreational to problem gambling by demographic variables such as age, gender, location, and community membership;


        (2)   A focused evaluation of gambling and vulnerable populations to include the attitudes of individuals of these groups and how they would be positively and negatively affected by legalized gambling and the necessary safeguards to amplify the positive and mitigate the negative consequences;


        (3)   Identify a responsible gambling framework for regulation of gambling operators to include evaluation of card-based systems, limit setting strategies, player ambassadors, and other mechanisms used internationally to assist players in making informed choices and engaging positive play;


        (4)   Assess integrated tourism planning to understand, at multiple, levels how to maximize strategic differentiation in any tourism-based gaming products and to minimize cannibalistic effects on local populations;


        (5)   Develop economic impact studies to assess the effect of gaming facilities on communities and the feasibility of asset-based incentive programs for specific communities;


        (6)   Provide evidence-based strategies for education of youth and prevention of underage gambling as well as development of an identification and treatment network for those with gambling problems; and


        (7)   Develop training and certification for problem gambling counselors as well as operator staff and employees; and


        BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the research should be funded by a dedicated protected revenue stream, outside of the general fund, to ensure independent analysis of the following key research inquiries to:


        (1)   Evaluate the disparities between the Honolulu Police Department's reported number of illegal gambling rooms, which ranged between seventy to one hundred, with the number of gambling arrests, which included thirty-four in 2019 and forty-four in 2018;


        (2)   Address reports issued by the Hawaii State Commission on the Status of Women and law enforcement agencies regarding legalized gambling's implications to sex trafficking, domestic violence, dropout rates, and undesirable tourism effects to determine whether the information provided was evidence-based and considered in the appropriate contexts; and


        (3)   Identify the appropriate prevention, education, and treatment options for what one study estimated at $26.3 million dollars in social costs to the State from twenty thousand problematic and ten thousand pathological gamblers in Hawaii; and


        BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the long-term policy goals of any future gambling legislation include:


        (1)   Culturally competent policy analysis and policy recommendations;


        (2)   Understanding of the range of impacts based on gambling type (slots, table games, race and sports, daily fantasy, poker, bingo, keno, and lottery);


        (3)   Optimal locations for gaming facilities and site-specific feasibility studies;


        (4)   Regulatory recommendations, including licensing, compliance, and suspicious activity monitoring;


        (5)   Workforce capabilities assessments and development of training programs; and


        (6)   Protections and incentives for vulnerable populations and native Hawaiians to develop responsible gambling habits; and


        BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the task force shall consist of the following members:


        (1)   The Director of Business, Economic Development, and Tourism, or the Director's designee, who shall serve as the chairperson of the task force;


        (2)   The Director of Health, or the Director's designee;


        (3)   The Director of Commerce and Consumer Affairs, or the Director's designee;


        (4)   The Attorney General or the Attorney General's designee;


        (5)   A member of the public with knowledge of legalized gambling, to be invited by the President of the Senate to participate; and


        (6)   A member of the public with knowledge of legalized gambling, to be invited by the Speaker of the House of Representatives to participate; and


        BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Department of Business, Economic Development, and Tourism shall provide administrative support to the task force; and


        BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the task force is requested to submit a report of its findings and recommendations, including any proposed legislation, to the Legislature no later than twenty days prior to the convening of the Regular Sessions of 2022 and 2023; and


        BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the task force shall dissolve on June 30, 2023; and


                      BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that certified copies of this Concurrent Resolution be transmitted to the Governor; Director of Business, Economic Development, and Tourism; Director of the Department of Health; Director of Commerce and Consumer Affairs; and the Attorney General.









Report Title:  

DOH; DBEDT; Gambling Task Force; Future Legislation