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  • Hawaii Puts Online Poker Bill On the Table

    Wednesday, January 25th, 2017 by Jeremy Olsen

Along with Utah, Hawaii is one of only two states that doesn’t offer any form of legalized gambling – not even a lottery. That said, it’s shocking to see that the Aloha State now has an online poker bill on the table.

Dubbed SB 677, this legislation would establish a “Hawaii internet lottery and gaming corporation,” paving the way for both internet poker and casino games. The motivation behind the sudden legalization effort is that the state wants to generate money for public schools and the University of Hawaii.

Here’s one passage from the bill that explains more behind the legalization effort:

“The legislature also finds that tens of thousands of Hawaii residents are estimated to participate in illegal online
gambling on unregulated internet web sites. These gambling websites are operated by illegal offshore operators not subject to regulation or taxation in the United States. Questions often arise about the honesty and the fairness of the games offered to Hawaii residents, but neither federal nor Hawaii laws currently provide any consumer protections for Hawaii residents who play on these web sites.”

While this is great news for poker players on the island, the one catch is that introducing SB 677 is only the first step in a long process. As we’ve seen with other states, it’s hard for legislation to make it all the way from a committee hearing to the governor’s desk for final signature. In the case of California, such a bill can take years to gain traction when competing interests (tribal casinos vs. race tracks) argue over the details.

Luckily, there are no tribal gaming groups that own land-based casinos in Hawaii. But given the lack of gambling history in the state, this certainly doesn’t mean it will be an easy task.

If the state doesn’t legalize online poker, at least players will still have this to look forward to:

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