Could Las Vegas lose its unofficial status as Hawaii’s “Ninth Island?” It could happen if a new bill receives approval in Hawaii.
This week Sen. Stanley Chang (D) introduced SB 935. The bill would ban Nevada casinos from advertising in Hawaii.
The description of the bill details says it all. Hawaii is taking aim at Nevada casinos.
“Prohibits advertisements for Nevada hotels, resorts, or other recreational services that promote casinos or gambling devices licensed by the Nevada Gaming Commission from being broadcast, televised, marketed in printed publications or displays, distributed online, or otherwise communicated by electronic means within the State. Imposes a general excise tax on persons engaged in the arrangement, provision, or sale within the State of vacation packages or other recreational services that promote gambling or gambling devices that is not prohibited by state law of thirty percent of gross income due to that activity.”
Like tourism boards around the world, the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) frequently advertises in other states trying to attract visitors. However, this bill focuses on one Las Vegas casino operator specifically.
Boyd Gaming customers and Hawaii
A large portion of Boyd Gaming’s Las Vegas customers visits from Hawaii. This bill is specifically targeting Boyd Gaming and its Las Vegas casinos.
The bill details information about the national casino operator, saying:
“In 2011, it was reported that Boyd Gaming, a Nevada-based gaming corporation, earned about $600,000,000 from Hawaii annually. Further, in a 2021 annual investor report, Boyd Gaming highlighted that customers from the Hawaiian market comprised more than half of the room nights sold at The California, the Fremont, and Main Street Station, and that decreases in Hawaiian market spending could adversely affect their business and financial condition.”
Boyd Travel is a popular tool used by gamblers from Hawaii looking to visit Las Vegas. Customers can book hotel and airfare packages directly through Boyd Gaming.
Many visitors frequent the California Hotel and Casino just off Fremont Street in downtown Las Vegas. These visitors also stay at Main Street Station and the Fremont Hotel and Casino. Both are Boyd casinos in downtown Las Vegas.
Few Hawaii visitors stay at the other Boyd casinos around Las Vegas. Boyd considers these as “local properties” for Las Vegas residents.
Hawaii may have bigger plans for gambling
Hawaii is one of two states (Utah is the other) without any form of legal gambling in the US. There have been multiple attempts over the years to legalize some form of gambling in Hawaii.
In January, Rep. John Mizuno discussed Hawaii losing money to Las Vegas because residents leave the state to gamble. Mizuno told TV station KHON:
“With Hawaiʻi residents dropping a billion dollars to Las Vegas, Nevada every year, I think a sports and card gaming bill warrants at least a discussion.”
He explained further that he’d like to keep the money that’s currently going to Las Vegas in Hawaii:
“Why is gaming legal in 48 states and why are so many Hawaiʻi residents going to Las Vegas, with many taking multiple trips? The people I know who enjoy trips to Las Vegas are mostly kūpuna, not criminals. I feel it is important to discuss options to keep local money in the local economy.”
Many municipalities focus on keeping money local. Perhaps Hawaii will address the root of this issue and legalize casino gambling and sports betting for its residents.
If not, targeting other states that offer the hobby Hawaiians enjoy seems hurtful to its residents.