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Posted on 23 February 2010

Hawaii has always been known for its sun, sand and surf. It may soon add another attractions: slots. Hawaii is one of the last two states with no legalized gambling, but lawmakers facing billion-dollar budget deficits and hunting for ways to increase revenue are thinking about allowing casinos in tourist-filled Waikiki or on Native Hawaiian lands. Proponents say casinos would draw much-needed new money and jobs into the long-troubled, tourism-dependent economy.


Tourists from the mainland would skip Las Vegas to sun on pristine beaches and take a turn at the roulette tables. Coveted high-rollers from Asia could avoid the long trans-Pacific flight, shortening their trip to the slots while checking out the hula dancing. And the hundreds of thousands of Hawaiians who fly about six hours to Vegas would only have to jump in the car or hop a short flight to place a wager. Las Vegas is known as Hawaii’s ninth island. But gambling opponents are urging state legislators to block casinos so that the islands can maintain their status as a family friendly destination lacking the serious crime and social problems they say accompanies legalized gambling elsewhere. Gov. Linda Lingle, a Republican, has said she opposes the introduction of gambling.

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