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US – Hawaiian Home Lands commission given five years to decide on casino

By - 15 February 2021

The Hawaiian Home Lands commission will be given five years, until December 31, 2026, to decide if it wants to develop a casino resort as an initiative to fund getting Native Hawaiians back onto their ancestral lands.

State Sen. Maile Shimabukuro, chairwoman of the Senate Hawaiian Affairs Committee, said that whilst this would not provide the ‘green light’ for a casino resort, it would allow the Home Lands commission ‘self determination’ on how to move forward with its Native Hawaiian vision.

Hawaiian Homes Commission Chair William J. Aila, Jr., said: “We are supportive of the amendments made by the Senate Committee on Hawaiian Affairs to SB 1321 that would allow the Hawaiian Homes Commission and their beneficiaries the authority to create a gaming operation. If successful, this measure would provide DHHL a consistent source of funding in order to develop homestead lots. That is our purpose, and in order to do that, the Department needs a consistent source of funding for infrastructure construction.”

Last week, Hawaii’s House Economic Development Committee turned down the chance to launch the island’s first casino via a project from the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands (DHHL) that would have seen a resort-casino built in Kapolei.

DHHL Director William Aila said: “The Chair and I believe that gaming can be responsibly implemented in Hawaii through a regulatory process that sets aside resources to aid in the mitigation of the potential impacts. These resources can fund similar public safety measures and best practices that have already been developed and administered by countries like Japan, Singapore, and New Zealand. DHHL’s proposal was written with social responsibility in mind and includes specific funding sources that would help alleviate negative social impacts.”

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