The Hawaii gambling proposition has been about as likely as, say, a lake-effect blizzard dumping three feet of snow on Waikiki beach.
As gaming observers know, Hawaii and Utah are the only two states without any form of legalized gambling, including the lottery.
However, a gambling advocate in the Hawaii legislature will try again with gaming-related legislation in the 2023 legislative session that would allow online sports gambling.
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Hawaii state representative John Mizuno (D), who introduced gambling-related legislation in the past, introduced a 2023 version of a gambling bill (HB 344) on January 19 that appears specifically legalize online sports betting. You can read the bill here.
The bill is missing certain key details, such as a tax rate for sports betting operators or an actual dollar amount for initial or license renewal fees.
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Fantasy sports not included
However, the proposed bill is clear on what constitutes sports betting, which “includes, but is not limited to, single game bets, teaser bets, parlays, over-under, money-line, pools, betting exchange, bets in games, in-game bets, proposition bets and straight bets”.
However, the bill goes on to say: “‘Sports betting’ does not include fantasy contests in which the winning outcome reflects the relative knowledge and skill of the participants and is determined predominantly by the accumulated statistical results of the performance of athletes.” or individuals at a real event.”
There have been some news accounts that have suggested that poker and land-based sportsbooks could be in the mix somehow, but the versions of HB 344 available on the state government website don’t seem to mention any of those things specifically. .
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Previous bills featured large tax rates
In the past, sports betting legislation has been suggested in Hawaii with some proposals including a whopping 55% tax rate. That type of tax hit does not appear to be included in the current proposed bill.
Gambling advocates in the past have noted that Last Vegas is a popular vacation destination for Hawaiian residents, so much so that Vegas is nicknamed “The Ninth Island.” And indeed, a number of restaurants and resorts reach out to Hawaiians, the most famous being the California Hotel & Casino on Fremont Street in downtown Las Vegas. Even the popular ABC Hawaii stores, selling clothing, food and beverage essentials, dot the Las Vegas landscape.
With that Hawaiian affinity for Las Vegas in mind, some proponents of gambling in the state have suggested that even a small amount of home gambling, such as sports betting, could keep some of that gambling money in the game. Aloha State, though that seems like a pretty thin argument.
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