Hawaii is Actively Looking Into Legalizing Gambling and Sports Betting

Hawaii is Actively Looking Into Legalizing Gambling and Sports Betting

Hawaii and gambling have not been synonymous with one another since the beginning of time. The Aloha State is one of only two states — Utah the other jurisdiction — that has never had any form of legal gambling. That could all change soon with legal Hawaii sports betting.

It would be a landmark bill if Hawaii ultimately legalized sports betting in the state. For those not in the loop regarding Hawaii gambling laws, it is important that the state does not have any form of wagering. This includes casinos, horse racing, and even lottery games.

Something as simple as going to the corner store and buying scratch offs is against the law. While gambling in Hawaii would be a booming business, the government has stayed away from getting involved in the industry.

Do you know how badly a casino operator would like to put a casino in Hawaii? The Wynn Hawaii or MGM Hawaii would be a money printer on Oahu. A property as exquisite as The Wynn could easily ask for over $500.00 a night on average in Hawaii.

However, the government does not even allow a state lottery to be operated — never mind a Las Vegas-style casino. Recent developments could open the door for legal gambling in Hawaii, though.

Las Vegas – The Ninth Island Connection

As well as tourists flying for a vacation in Hawaii, there is a big market for gamblers that live in the state. Hawaii and gambling are not synonymous, but Hawaiians and gambling are closely related.

Las Vegas is a popular tourist destination for gamblers that live in Hawaii. There are some casinos in Las Vegas, the California Hotel & Casino, for instance, that cater directly to the Islands. Vegas is known as the Ninth Island of Hawaii for a very good reason.

Nevada has a vested interest in keeping gambling illegal in Hawaii. Government officials in Nevada want the flights to keep coming to Harry Reid Airport. Legal sports betting in Hawaii would reduce some of this traffic almost immediately.

Hawaii is clearly a massively untapped gambling market. If Rep. John Mizuno has his way, then Hawaii is going to squash Las Vegas and gambling is going to flourish in his state. It is hard to disagree with Mizuno’s assertion:

“With Hawai’i residents dropping a billion dollars to Las Vegas, Nevada every year, I think a sports and card gaming bill warrants at least a discussion”, noted Rep. Mizuno.

According to Eric Ford of Full House Poker, residents in Hawaii rack up over 500,000 visits in only one year to Las Vegas. The 500,000 visits are estimated to equate to between $400 million to $800 million spent on gambling.

This does not take into account the potential for gambling tourism in the future. If a Hawaii sports betting bill is passed, the door is going to be open for other developments down the line.

What is this Hawaii sports betting bill all about? Let’s go through the details of where sports betting in Hawaii is at the moment.


Hawaii Sports Betting Bill

The Sports Gaming Bill was proposed in Hawaii on January 9. Rep. Mizuno is behind the push to bring legalized sports betting to Hawaii. As other states around the country continue to legalize sports betting, Mizuno does not want Hawaii to be left behind.

House Bill 344 presented in front of the state legislature is intended to legalize sports betting and poker. This would include a retail sportsbook and card room in the state. The sportsbook and card room would be standalone establishments.

Note that the language included in the bill does include mobile sports wagering, as well. The bill is designed to open a regulated in-person sportsbook and card room on Oahu, with an operator offering mobile sports wagering.

(1) A mobile sports wagering license under section -5 to permit a mobile sports wagering operator to operate sports wagering through an approved mobile application or other digital platform that involves, at least in part, the use of the Internet; and

(2) A sports wagering supplier license under section -6 to sell goods and services to be used in connection with sports wagering but not to directly accept wagers. -HB 344

Rep. Mizuno appears to be introducing a simple bill that could show gambling in Hawaii is viable. Previous attempts have failed to legalize gambling in Hawaii, but this could be the most realistic one to date.

Hawaii has never had any type of lottery or gaming board in the state, despite earlier efforts to implement one. Putting together a government body to oversee gambling would be a significant step forward. Before any bets are placed this will have to happen, which is groundbreaking for Hawaii.

The main argument against legal sports betting is that crime will come with it. Human trafficking is a concern for pundits that are against legalizing sports betting in Hawaii. However, 48 states have legalized gambling, including states that have the lowest rates of human trafficking.

Is There a Correlation Between Gambling and Human Trafficking?

According to the World Population Review, Rhode Island has the lowest rate of human trafficking in the United States at 0.90 per 100,000 people. The rate of 0.90 is lower than the human trafficking rate of 2.63 in Hawaii.

It is important to note that Rhode Island has legal gambling. There are casinos and legal sports betting in Rhode Island. The state has online sports betting and land-based sports betting at retail sportsbooks.

The counterargument is that human trafficking rates are high in Las Vegas. However, can this terrible crime be blamed on gambling alone? It is much more complicated than that.

There are other societal elements that contribute to human trafficking. Gambling is just an easy target for critics. Gambling is pretty well legal everywhere now, so there are some people in Hawaii that have to move into 2023.

Problem Gambling in Hawaii

Of course, problem gambling is always going to be at the forefront of a legal gambling initiatives. States that have recently made online sports betting legal have addressed this issue with safeguards to prevent problem gambling. Hawaii can implement strict problem gambling instruments to satisfy state requirements.

Moreover, residents of Hawaii are already flying to Las Vegas to spend millions upon millions of dollars. Gambling is not a foreign concept to Hawaiians despite gambling being illegal in the state. Go to downtown Las Vegas and you will most certainly find someone from Hawaii before long.

Previous Attempts To Legalize Gambling in Hawaii

This is not the first time that Hawaii has introduced a gambling bill in front of the legislature. There have been several attempts in the past to legalize gambling in Hawaii. Obviously, all of the gambling bills failed to pick up any traction with lawmakers.

The Rep. Mizuno-backed bill is the seventh gambling-related bill in Hawaii. This includes trying to establish a Hawaii Sports Wagering Commission in 2019. HB 1815 was the first attempt at legalizing online sports betting.

There was a wave of different gambling bills in early 2022, but all failed to generate any steam in the legislature. After the online sports betting bill died, HB 1815, a bill for casino gambling failed.

Then finally, another sports betting bill, HB 1973. Rep. Mizuno’s attempt is the first gambling bill to include a retail sportsbook. Is this Hawaii gambling bill going to crash and burn like the rest?

History tells us that this is another gambling bill in Hawaii that doesn’t go anywhere. The good news for gamblers is that they keep trying. Whether it is this most recent gambling bill or not, there is going to be a bill that eventually catches on in Hawaii.

The disagreement with House Bill 344 and operators is going to be the proposed gambling tax. With the previous gambling bill, the state would collect a whopping 55% tax from gambling operators.

Where To Bet On Sports in Hawaii

There isn’t any regulated sports betting in Hawaii. However, this does not mean that Hawaiian sports bettors have to be left out. There are alternate options for wagering on sporting events in the state.

The government and private operators are not permitted to allow sports betting. That being said, the laws do not impact offshore sportsbooks and casinos. No, the authorities are not going to break down your door and arrest you for betting on the secondary market.

Hopefully, we have good news to report regarding legal sports betting in Hawaii soon. If there is legalized gambling in Hawaii that allows casino resorts to set up shop, we will be on the next flight to Hawaii. That would be quite the experience to have a Las Vegas-style casino on the beaches of Oahu.

In the meantime, we have you covered at TheSportsGeek. We have an online sportsbook and casino for every type of gambler. Head to our Hawaii online gambling page to find the best betting sites for residents of Hawaii.

About the Author
Kyle Eve profile picture
Kyle Eve
Sports/Casino Writer
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Kyle Eve is a seasoned pro of The Sports Geek. Since joining the team in 2012, Kyle, has covered some of the biggest sporting events in the world. From the Super Bowl and World Series to March Madness, the NBA Finals, Kentucky Derby, and many more, Kyle has provided reliable analysis for millions of readers. After dedicating himself to hockey and football in high school, Kyle placed his first sports bet on his 18th birthday. Since then, he has spent his entire adult life devoting himself to becoming the best sports bettor and casino gambler possible. Kyle is from Windsor, ON, Canada

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