Two bills proposing the legalization of online sports betting in Hawaii have been introduced, but face significant challenges as the state has traditionally been very strict when it comes to gambling. The measures, Senate Bill 3376 and House Bill 2765, have been introduced by Senate President Ronald Kouchi and Rep. Daniel Holt respectively, seeking to allow online sports betting and interactive poker.
Currently, Hawaii does not allow commercial or tribal casinos, racinos, sports betting, iGaming, pari-mutuel wagering, or charitable games of chance. It also does not have a lottery. This is due to the state’s cultural values, spiritual beliefs, and concerns about addiction among the population.
Under the proposed SB3376, an approved sportsbook and online poker operator would need to pay a one-time fee of $50,000 to the state upon receipt of the license. Additionally, taxes on gross revenue and poker rake would be subject to an initial tax of 70%, which would decline by 5% each year after.
Both bills face tough odds of garnering legislative support and reaching the Governor’s desk. Governor Josh Green has expressed caution about approving new industries that could cause societal problems. Furthermore, the Hawaii Senate and House are both strongly controlled by Democrats, with the party maintaining a majority of the seats in both chambers.
The bills have been directed to their chambers’ respective economic development committees and will be considered during the legislature’s 2024 session, which runs through May 3. Despite the challenges, the introduction of these bills demonstrates a continued effort by lawmakers to end the state’s long-standing gaming prohibition and regulate online sports betting for the benefit of the state and its citizens.