A story was circulating late last week that Gov. Neil Abercrombie has signaled to state legislators that he might look favorably on casinos in Hawaii should it come up in the next session.
We'd like to express our strong opposition - again - to the idea of legalizing casino gambling in Hawaii. Here are a few of the reasons:
1. Anyone who thinks opening casinos means instant prosperity needs to visit Atlantic City. The glitz and glamour of the casino-hotels is surrounded by what can only be termed slums.
2. Anyone who thinks legalized gambling is recession-proof needs to visit Las Vegas. The explosive growth of the area in the last 20 years is only matched now with its nation-leading number of foreclosures.
3. Anyone who thinks casinos won't be the equivalent of a huge tax on those in Hawaii who can least afford it needs to visit the Native American casinos of the Midwest. There seniors are brought in by the busload from neighboring communities to pour their Social Security checks into slot and video poker games.
4. Anyone who thinks casinos won't change the character of Hawaii - for the worse - should check violent crime statistics. In 2009, Nevada had 228 robberies and 432 aggravated assaults per 100,000 residents. For the same year, Hawaii had 79 robberies and 163 aggravated assaults per 100,000 residents.
We would repeat that we favor a lottery - associated with Mega Millions or Powerball so the bureaucracy's size can be kept down - with proceeds earmarked for education.
We understand that Las Vegas is the favorite vacation spot for Hawaii residents. But, to repeat what we've said before, it can be assumed that people who take that trip can afford it. In our view, the casinos are just the right distance from our residents who don't have money to throw away.
So, legislators, please don't take this step. It will cheapen Hawaii's brand, change the nature of our society - and take money away from residents who can least afford it.
* Editorials reflect the opinion of the publisher.