US Digital Gaming exec campaigns for online gambling in Hawaii

Waikiki Beach

Waikiki BeachA representative from US Digital Gaming has been campaigning in Honolulu to inform lawmakers of the revenue potential of online gambling in the state.

The person in question is executive vice president and general counsel for USDG, Melissa Riahei.

In a report by Khon2 News, the exec showed state lawmakers a nifty PowerPoint presentation that exhibited stats for online poker and how it could reach an estimated $19.6 million in the first year, with the state retaining $2.5 million as profit, if it was to become legalised.

They turn out to be really large numbers that can really benefit in funding essential services for the state of Hawaii,” Riahei said.

By the fifth year revenues could soar to an estimated $103.9 million with $78.8 million just for the state’s pocket.

Riahei added: “It is a very significant sum. What we were doing is basically just informing the senators and the representatives of what’s going on across the country right now in the digital gaming world and what different states are doing.”

Although a new Council on Revenues projection in Hawaii has projected a 312 million deficit by fiscal year 2016, lawmakers in the state are still not warming to the idea of online gambling. Perhaps another bad sign is the fact that two bills to allow slots and video poker in Waikiki hotels that were introduced by state Senator Donna Mercado Kim failed to make it out of committee in years 2009 and 2011.

A reason for this gambling repulsion in Hawaii could be down to the anti-gambling lobby, a body that remains resilient in the Aloha State despite its financial difficulties in the past few years.

However, the state has some reason to be hopeful, at least. Donalyn Dela Cruz – a spokesperson for Hawaii Governor Neil Abercrombie – mentioned Tuesday the governor would welcome any gambling bill that lands in front of him: “Whatever is formulated and it actually survives the session and it gets to the governor’s desk, then he’ll look at it,” she said.