A proposal similar to ones introduced in past legislative sessions — but which always perish — again has life at the Hawaii Legislature: a casino in Waikiki.

House Bill 772, which has a hearing Wednesday, would grant a 10-year license for a single, stand-alone, members-only casino in Waikiki, but not in a hotel.

Guests age 21 and older who register to stay at least one day and night at a hotel on Oahu would be eligible for a $20 per day pass to the casino.

The bill would also establish a Hawaii gaming control commission, wagering taxes would be imposed on gross receipts, and there would be a state gaming fund and compulsive gambler program.

The Venetian Casino in Las Vegas. A bill proposes such a facility in Waikiki. Flickr: Nick Amoscato

“Thirty years ago, Waikiki was the center of nightly entertainment in Hawaii,” the bill explains. “There were eight movie theater screens, multiple nightly live musical performances, a host of night clubs, and many other evening activities. Within the past few years, Waikiki has seen the movie theaters, musical performance venues, and night clubs all shut down, leaving Hawaii visitors with very few nighttime activities.”

HB 772, introduced by Rep. John Mizuno, argues that a Waikiki casino will give tourists “memorable nighttime activities,” create jobs and generate millions of dollars for the state. “Polls have shown that more than seventy per cent of Japanese, Chinese, and Korean visitors approve of a casino in Waikiki.”

If the casino bill manages to pass the House Committee on Economic Development, three more committees must sign off before the measure comes to the House floor in order to cross to the Senate. The odds would not seem to favor success.

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