H.C.R. NO.














Requesting the department of business, economic development, and tourism to commission the development of evidence-based research and a policy framework to guide decision-making on gambling-related issues.




     WHEREAS, it is important for Hawaii to diversify its economy and address budget shortfalls; and


     WHEREAS, legalized gambling is a recurrent and popular idea to address these issues; and


     WHEREAS, nearly every legislative session, including the Regular Session of 2021, legalized gambling legislation is introduced; and


     WHEREAS, nevertheless, Hawaii is one of only two states without any form of legalized gambling; and


     WHEREAS, Hawaii's isolated geography makes the State particularly sensitive to the destabilizing effects of outside forces; and


WHEREAS, although most people gamble recreationally, a small proportion of individuals are harmed by gambling, which can have an impact on the larger community; and


     WHEREAS, similar to Hawaii's natural resources, local communities must be protected as a delicate ecosystem; and


     WHEREAS, any industry that is potentially addictive should be treated as a potentially invasive harm; and


     WHEREAS, public testimony on legalized gambling legislation has frequently referenced concerns regarding general crime, organized crime, problem gambling, and other related issues, including sex trafficking, domestic violence, school dropout rates, and undesirable tourism effects; and


     WHEREAS, due to public opposition, proposals for legalized gambling are swiftly rejected before sufficient debate can occur, leaving key questions regarding the efficacy of regulated gambling unanswered; and


     WHEREAS, unregulated, illegal gambling and gambling-related issues are already impacting Hawaii; and


     WHEREAS, although the Honolulu Police Department only reported thirty-four arrests in 2019 and forty-four arrests in 2018 for gambling offenses, there are believed to be approximately seventy to one hundred illegal gambling rooms in Hawaii; and


     WHEREAS, local authorities are also reporting an increased demand for gambling due to the COVID-19 pandemic; and


     WHEREAS, a 2009 study by the National Council on Problem Gambling estimated that the social costs of gambling addiction in Hawaii from twenty thousand problem gamblers and ten thousand pathological gamblers was $26,300,000; however, $0 in public funding was provided for gambling treatment and prevention; and


     WHEREAS, dedicated and protected funding for gambling research will help address these critical community issues; and


     WHEREAS, to achieve a more productive discourse on whether Hawaii should pursue legalized gambling, research on relevant public health and safety concerns and an evidenced-based policy framework are necessary to guide decision-making on gambling‑related issues; now, therefore,


     BE IT RESOLVED by the House of Representatives of the Thirty-first Legislature of the State of Hawaii, Regular Session of 2021, the Senate concurring, that the Department of Business, Economic Development, and Tourism is requested to commission the development of evidence-based research and a policy framework to guide decision-making on gambling-related issues; and

     BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the research should address the following areas:


     (1)  The prevalence of gambling problems before and after initiation of legalized gambling.  A baseline prevalence study should establish the current state of gambling along the spectrum from recreational to problem gambling, broken down by demographic variables of interest, such as age, gender, location, and community membership.  The study should also address the cultural characteristics of gamblers and gambling communities.  If gambling is legalized, subsequent studies, conducted at least one-year following the initiation of legalized gambling, should assess changes in gambling patterns and populations.  These studies should evaluate the relationships to gambling‑related harms, such as comorbidity, unemployment, criminal activity, and other factors commonly evaluated in research literature;


     (2)  Focused evaluation of gambling and the impact on vulnerable populations.  Research should identify the attitudes of individuals in these groups, how legalized gambling would positively or negatively affect these individuals, and the safeguards that could be instituted to amplify the positive and mitigate the negative consequences.  Research should also include policy analysis to eliminate loopholes that create an incentive for predatory businesses to emerge;


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


     (4)  Integrated tourism planning to understand at multiple levels how to maximize strategic differentiation in any tourism‑based gaming products and to minimize any cannibalistic effects;

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


     (6)  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)  Training and certification for problem gambling counselors as well as operator staff and employees; and


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


     BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the policy framework should:


     (1)  Provide a realistic appraisal of the resources necessary to ensure public health and safety and mitigate gambling-related harm;


     (2)  Guide the funding and development of:


          (A)  A treatment network to provide individuals who gamble problematically and their families with subsidized treatment; and


          (B)  Educational programs in schools to limit underage gambling; and


     (3)  Establish long-term goals, including:


          (A)  Culturally competent policy analysis and recommendations;


          (B)  Understanding the range of impacts based on the type of gambling involved, such as slots, table games, racing and sports, daily fantasy, poker, bingo, keno, and lottery;


          (C)  Optimal locations for gaming facilities and site‑specific feasibility studies;


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


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


          (F)  Protections and incentives for vulnerable populations and Native Hawaiians to develop responsible gambling habits; and


     BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that a certified copy of this Concurrent Resolution be transmitted to the Director of Business, Economic Development, and Tourism.









Report Title: 

Legalized Gambling; Research; Policy Framework; DBEDT