And then there were two. Hawai`i and Utah are now the only states without any form of legalized gambling, after Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen today signed that state’s lottery fund into reality. Earlier this year, Sens. Cal Kawamoto, Willie Espero and Robert Bunda introduced Senate Bill 83, which proposed a public referendum on whether Hawai`i should have legalized gambling, but it died in committee. A KITV/Star-Bulletin poll last year found residents split on the issue, but gambling in Hawai`i is staunchly opposed by Gov. Linda Lingle and Hawaii’s senior senator, Sen. Daniel K. Inouye.
The referendum, which would not have been binding, would have also polled residents on what forms of gambling they supported: pari-mutual racing, a state lottery, shipboard gaming, and casino gaming.
According to the National Coalition Against Legalized Gambling (NCALG), pro-gambling organizations had invested more than $200,000 in the hopes of advancing Hawai`i legislation last year.