Hawaii lawmakers are proposing a spate of bills to legalize gambling

The Hawaii Tribune-Herald reported that Hawaii is currently one of only two states that have not legalized any form of commercial gambling, with Utah being the other.

Bills include casino resort, sports betting, fantasy competitions and a lottery

One of the bills, House Bill 918, proposes granting a 10-year license for a single “poker and sportsbook gaming facility” on the island of Oahu. The facility would only be accessible to those over the age of 21 who sign up to stay at a hotel and pay an annual fee.

The bill, introduced by Rep. John Mizuno and Daniel Holt, both Democrats from Oahu, would also create a Hawaii Gaming Control Commission and a state gaming fund, as well as a gross receipts tax and a gambling addiction treatment program.

Four other bills are under consideration, including two related to sports betting and two related to online fantasy sports.

Senate Bill 1109 and House Bill 344 aim to regulate sports betting through the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism. The bills would create licensing requirements for sports betting operators and operators, and stipulate that sports betting does not count as gambling or gambling.

Two other Senate bills, SB 1108 and SB 1146, cover online fantasy sports competitions. They would set up a registration program for these contests and exempt them from state gambling laws. One of those bills would also levy a tax on the gross receipts of online fantasy sports competitions and allocate monies to benefit public schools and county roads.

In addition, Senate Bill 1107 aims to create the Hawaii Lottery and Gaming Corporation to operate and regulate betting and gaming in the state. This bill would also create a special fund and allocate a portion of its proceeds to various community betterment initiatives.

Additional bills will crack down on illegal gambling

Several anti-gambling measures are also under consideration, including two accompanying laws that would make operating an illegal gambling business a Class C felony with a potential prison sentence of up to five years. Other bills aim to criminalize possession of large gaming devices and create an interstate task force to root out illegal gambling and drug activity.

These measures aim to eradicate the 7,000 illegal gambling establishments currently operating in Hawaii.
Finally, Senator Stanley Chang’s Senate Bill 935 would ban the advertising of hotels and resorts in Nevada that promote gambling and impose a 30% tax on the gross income of individuals in Hawaii who organize or sell vacation packages that include gambling activities.

The bill cites a 2011 estimate that Boyd Gaming, a Nevada-based company, earned $600 million from Hawaii residents and says the gambling ban costs Hawaii $1 billion annually in outgoing dollars.