Home Gambling Industry Sports betting, casinos on the legislative agenda in Hawaii

Sports betting, casinos on the legislative agenda in Hawaii

26 Jan 2022
3 min. read

Waikiki, Hawaii
Hawaii House Bill 1815 (HB 1815), introduced last week, seeks to legalize sports betting in the state. In addition, it proposes to impose 55% tax on sportsbooks, the highest amount suggested by any state so far. It would beat New York's and New Hampshire's 51% rates.

Representative John Mizuno authored HB 1815. He used New York's bill as a model but wanted to make the tax system more progressive. Additionally, the bill seeks to create a Hawaii online betting corporation for sports wagering. It will be responsible for regulating and conducting gaming and would fall under the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism.

Mizuno claimed that many provisions of the bill would need to change if it makes it to committees. But he said that it could be difficult for the bill to make it to that stage, considering Hawaii's status as one of only a couple of states that do not allow gambling.

Mizuno has introduced separate legislation, House Bill 1820 (HB 1820), as well. This bill seeks to legalize gaming in the state, allowing Waikiki to have a single casino. The standalone venue is expected to stimulate tourism and nightlife in Oahu's Honolulu neighborhood.

The bill describes Waikiki's past as the "center for nightly entertainment" of Hawaii. However, it has been hit hard by the closure of nightclubs, movie theatres and other entertainment venues. Waikiki's nightlife would be boosted by the addition of a casino.

The bill reads, in part, "The legislature finds that a single casino in Waikiki will not only provide tourists with memorable nighttime activities but will also stimulate the economy by creating hundreds of jobs and generating millions of dollars in revenue for the State."

Support for the casino is reportedly high. HB 1820 states that 70% of the Japanese, Chinese and Korean visitors to Waikiki approve of the idea.

HB 1815 & HB 1820 were passed on Monday's first reading, but this is only one step in a three-step process that will allow the bill to pass through the Hawaii House of Representatives. Next, the bills must be approved by the Hawaii Senate. They will then need to be signed by Governor David Ige and then approved by the federal government.

26 Jan 2022
3 min. read