Hawaii is the latest state to make a push to introduce legalized online poker and other forms of online gambling. At this time, Hawaii has no form of legalized gambling, however, there are many who make use of offshore gaming sites.
Senator Will Espero has introduced a gambling bill for Hawaii. The bill is similar to those accepted by other US states that already have legalized online poker, including Nevada, Delaware, and New Jersey. The 29-page bill, SB 677, outlines the potential legalization of the industry in Hawaii.
In SB 677, it has been proposed that online poker, online casino, and lottery games should be legalized. There is no proposal to include sports betting in the bill. Should the bill become law, Hawaiians and those who visit the island state, would be able to legally play online poker and other games while in the state.
It has been noted that there are many in Hawaii who continue to gamble online without the protection of the state. Playing on unregulated gaming sites opens players up to possible fraud, and no way to protect their rights. Senator Espero explained that since residents are playing in unregulated sites, it would be better to protect players by regulating the industry.
In addition to this, legalized online poker, casinos, and lottery would bring a financial boost to Hawaii from tax revenue. As in other states that have legalized the industry, the taxes collected from online gambling can be redirected for the betterment of the community. Funds can go to educational programs and to improve health benefits for those who live in Hawaii.
The bill sets a minimum legal gambling age at 18 and proposes that a body be set up to ensure that players are protected in the best way possible. The Hawaii Internet Lottery and Gaming Corporation would be set up to monitor all online gaming and ensure that all runs according to the law.
Hawaii gaming sites would also be able to connect with gaming sites in other states that have legalized online gambling and share a similar agreement. The gambling jurisdictions have shared liquidity agreements, allowing poker players to play against those in other legalized gambling jurisdictions in the United States.
Other states that have shown interest in legalizing online gambling include New York, Washington State, Michigan, and Massachusetts. It remains to be seen whether Hawaii or one of these other states will become the next legalized gambling jurisdiction in the US.