A few months ago, some Native American Indians came to town. They met with all of OHA’s female trustees (Oʻahu Trustee Akaka, Chair Trustee Lindsey, Trustee Alapa and myself) in various separate meetings. They had a power point presentation inviting OHA to join a business partnership with them for a gambling casino in Waikīkī!
The “ask” was simple. OHA would give up all the parcels it owns in Kakaʻako for a “crap shoot” (literally) and would instead exchange the Kakaʻako lands for the old convention center in Waikīkī, which OHA would then refurbish as a gambling casino!
I explained to them that their proposal was dead in the water because Hawaiʻi is one of two states in the union that prohibits all forms of gaming. Simply put, gambling is a crime in Hawaiʻi.
I told them that only the Hawaiʻi State Legislature could change that law and that even if it was changed, the governor could still veto it. I told them that prior efforts to pass gaming laws in Hawaiʻi had all failed, and that in Hawaiʻi there is a strong anti-gaming lobby consisting of our state and federal law enforcement agencies and our inter-faith Ecumenical Council of Churches because gaming attracts many other illegal activities, including prostitution and drug dealing.
My response was simple…GAMBLING IS ILLEGAL IN HAWAIʻI, and OHA’s primary obligation is to address the needs of our people for housing, health, education, ʻāina and food.
Some trustees at OHA want to facilitate gambling in Hawaiʻi, claiming that we could get millions from the crap tables and make even more money by using our casino to host wrestling, MMA and Boxing matches just like some Native Americans do on the continent.
These ideas are ridiculous and idiotic. Gaming is illegal in Hawaiʻi. OHA’s job is to address our people’s critical needs pursuant to our strategic plan. Trustees who want to advocate for gambling need to re-read their oath of office and consider running for a legislative office.
My manaʻo is simple. Gaming is not an option for OHA. Our job is to build 29,000 homes for our people, not gambling casinos.
Merry Christmas, Mililani