Hawaii Legislature to Consider 5 Gaming Bills

Hawaii

Bettors in Hawaii could have big news soon. The state’s legislature is considering five bills that each would either establish or clear the way for some form of gaming in the Aloha State. Currently, Hawaii joins Utah as the only two US states to not allow any type of gaming action. The five House Bills have all been reviewed by legislators and moved to committees for further consideration.

A wide range of gaming topics is covered in the proposed bills. Two of the house bills deal with the possibility of bringing a casino to Hawaii. The well-known area of Waikiki is named as a specific building site in HB1820. Currently, bettors in Hawaii have to rely on online casinos.

There are also two bills that address the possibility of creating a state lottery in Hawaii. The Aloha State does not have a state lottery. Hawaii also does not partake in multi-state lotteries, such as Mega Millions or Powerball.

Sports fans on the island will be happy to know that there is a bill to legalize sports betting in Hawaii. The proposed bill would allow approved sportsbooks to operate in the state. Bettors could use mobile apps, and place a variety of bets including prop bets, in-play bets, and straight bets. Unfortunately, the bill would not allow for wagering on fantasy sports contests.

Could Hawaii Have a Casino Soon?

Hawaii is one of the few states that has zero land-based casinos. There are two bills in house committees that could change that. HB 1962 would allow for a report on the potential revenues from casinos to be conducted. HB 1820 would go several steps further and establish a casino in Waikiki.

Legislators in Hawaii have tried to legalize gambling in the past. However, past efforts fell short due to concerns about the cost of building casinos as well as the public safety risk. HB 1962 would look to address those issues. The bill would require the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands to conduct a study on the potential impact of casinos in Hawaii. HB 1962 asks three specific questions:

  • How feasible are limited gaming casinos in Hawaii?
  • How much revenue would be produced by limited gaming casinos?
  • How should officials address the potential public safety risks posed by limited gaming casinos?

The study would be funded out of the general revenues of the State of Hawaii. If passed, the act would go into effect at the beginning of July. It is estimated that the study would be finished before the start of the 2023 session.

Another bill was recently introduced that addresses bringing a casino to Hawaii. HB 1820 would allow for a 10 -year license for a stand-alone casino in Waikiki. The casino would be members-only and would not be part of a hotel. Guests who are 21 and older who are staying at a hotel on Oahu would be able to $20 per day to access the casino.

HB1820 would also create the Hawaii Gaming Control Commission to oversee the casino. It would also create a wagering tax on gross receipts. The bill would establish a Hawaii gaming fund and compulsive gambler program.

Two Bills on the Table Regarding a Hawaii State Lottery

In addition to the two bills concerning a casino, there are also two bills in committee that deal with establishing a lottery in Hawaii. HB 2040 calls the creation of a Hawaii Lottery and Gaming Corporation. Under HB 2040, revenue from the lottery would go toward community improvement. HB 2485 on the other hand would create a lottery commission. The commission would use funds from the lottery to address issues related to invasive species.

If adopted, HB 2040 would create the Hawaii Lottery and Gaming Corporation. Under the proposed bill, the Corporation would be able to:

  • Operate games of chance and skill
  • Enter into agreements for multistate games
  • Offer free-play games and sweepstakes to attract tourists
  • Conduct up to 2 gaming events per year to attract tourists

According to the current bill, the Corporation would use revenue from the lottery to fund community improvement projects. Some of the projects listed include funding for education programs, assisting in funding professional development for educators, addressing heat abatement issues in public schools.

The other lottery bill, HB 2485, has several key differences from HB 2040. For one, HB 2485 would establish the Hawaii State Lottery Commission, rather than the Hawaii Lottery and Gaming Corporation. The Commission’s director would be in charge of determining the types of games available. HB 2485 would require monthly revenue reports instead of the quarterly reports required by HB 2040.

HB 2485 also differs in the way revenue from the lottery would be spent. HB 2040 calls for funds to be put toward education programs. Meanwhile, HB 2485 would see revenue put toward addressing issues from invasive species.

There are some similarities between the bills. Both bills would allow participants of at least 18-years-old to play. They would also both create new regulatory bodies to oversee the lottery. Also, both bills would allow for Hawaii to join multi-state lottery games.

Will Hawaii Legalize Sports Betting?

A state lottery and a new casino are not the only betting options on the table. Legislators are also considering a bill that would legalize sports betting in Hawaii. Sports betting has quickly become one of the fastest-growing industries in the US. Many other states have generated hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue from their sportsbooks.

For Hawaii to join in on the action this year, legislators would have to pass HB 1973. The bill would allow for anyone over the age of 18 to place wagers on sporting events at a licensed sportsbook.

HB 1973 also outlines the requirements for sports wagering operators, such as initial licensing fees. The Department of Business, Economic Development, and Tourism would oversee licensed operators. HB 1973 would separate sports betting from games of chance or gambling.

Conclusion

Big changes could be coming soon for bettors in Hawaii. The Aloha State’s legislature currently has five bills in committee that would legalize some form of gambling. Currently, Hawaii is one of two states that does not offer some form of legal gaming.

Among the bills in committees, HB 1820 and HB 1962 deal with the possibility of establishing a casino in Hawaii. HB 2040 and 2485 would both establish a state lottery and a new organization to oversee it. There is also a bill that would legalize sports betting in Hawaii. HB 1973 would put the Department of Business, Economic Development, and Tourism in charge of overseeing licensed sportsbooks.

There are many differences among the bills, but there are many commonalities as well. All the bills focus on increasing tourism to the Aloha State. They also call for funds from gaming to fund various state programs. Some of the programs listed included education and programs that fight invasive species.