Gaming tax law is hypocritical

By: Trustee Rowena Akana

Source: Letter to the Editor, Honolulu Star Bulletin, August 8, 2009

Thanks to the new law shepherded by state Rep. Pono Chong, Hawaii residents going to Las Vegas will owe taxes on all of their winnings which cannot be offset by any of their losing hands.

The law makes the state Legislature look hypo-critical. For as long as I can remember, all efforts to pass legalized gambling in Hawaii have failed.

The state Legislature has stuck to the position that gambling is not a panacea to solve our budget shortfalls or worth risking the 5 per-cent of our residents who become hopelessly addicted. Legislators have also said that gambling sends the wrong message to our keiki and that we should be teaching them to build a good life through education and hard work instead of encouraging them to just “roll the dice” with their future.

Chong has sold the soul of the Legislature for a measly $300,000 a year of potential tax revenue. The Legislature should move to repeal the new law. It appears two-faced not to allow gambling in Hawaii and still say it is OK to tax winnings that Hawaii residents receive in another state. They can’t have it both ways.