Hawaii’s Online Sports Betting Bills Likely to Face Challenges

Posted on: January 30, 2024, 01:28h.

Last updated on: January 30, 2024, 01:28h.

Hawaii, known for its restrictive gambling laws, is the latest state to explore legalization.

Hawaii online sports betting poker
Bills to legalize online sports betting in Hawaii have been introduced. But like previous legislative sessions, the measures face steep odds of passing in Honolulu. (Image: National Geographic)

The island state, which currently prohibits most forms of gaming, including online sports betting, is considering a change in legislation after previous efforts failed. This year, two bills have been proposed to explore the legalization of online sports betting in Hawaii.

Senate Bill 3376, introduced by Senate President Ronald Kouchi (D- Kaua’i, Ni’ihau), seeks to create a regulatory framework for the establishment of online sports betting and interactive poker.

House Bill 2765, proposed by Rep. Daniel Holt (D-Sand Island, Iwilei), aims to permit online sports betting exclusively and indicates possible modifications to licensing and taxation within the bill.

Both measures have a low likelihood of receiving legislative support and reaching Governor Josh Green’s office, with the bills needing to be filed before the end of January and the legislature’s session scheduled to run until May 3.

Kouchi’s SB3376 outlines a one-time fee of $50,000 for sportsbook and online poker operators upon licensing. Taxes on gross revenue from bettors and poker rake would be subjected to an initial tax of 70%, reducing by 5% each year after to a minimum of 5%. The bill also sets the minimum age to participate in any online sports betting activities at 21.

According to Kouchi, regulating online sports and poker wagering in the state would protect its citizens and capture revenues that are currently being channeled to offshore operators.

On the other hand, Holt’s HB2765 statute leaves the licensing fee and tax rate up for discussion, but allows people in Hawaii as young as 18 to participate in online sports betting.

The fate of the gaming bills rests heavily on the Hawaii State Legislature, with both measures referred to their respective economic development committees for consideration.

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