Poker News

Sad News for Hawaii: Poker, Betting, and Game Laws Dead in the Water

In 2023, Hawaii residents were poised to finally have the opportunity to enjoy poker games as two pieces of legislation that would have legalized organized gambling, such as poker and blackjack, were introduced earlier this year. If passed, that would have been a groundbreaking moment for the state since it is one of only two US states prohibiting organized gambling.

The bills awaited official hearings before they could progress further, thus, making Hawaiians hopeful and eager to see what’s next! However, despite multiple attempts by Hawaiian legislators, the bill failed to pass during the 2023 legislative session. It could have been more successful in garnering enough support from lawmakers.

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A Plan Too Good to be True

Hawaii’s Senate received SB 1107, presented by State Sens. Gilbert S.C. Keith-Agaran and Angus LK McKelvey as a means to legalize poker in the state – including a betting game, poker online within the same proposal devoted primarily to permitting lottery sales across all of Hawaii’s islands! It is one of five US states without any type of state or multi-state lotteries available; thus, this concept has been deliberated for quite some time!

In addition, the Hawaii House also recently unveiled a momentous bill– HB 918–that would give tourists the unique opportunity to participate in sports betting and poker at an exclusive gambling facility near Honolulu.

According to this Mizuno/Holt proposal, individuals who have booked a “transient accommodation,” such as a hotel room or vacation rental on Oahu, will be eligible for the one-of-a-kind experience.

SB 1107 has been deliberately designed to allow tourists to partake in live gambling without resulting in unintended consequences. Moreover, various safety measures have been implemented so only visitors can play rather than local and potential players.

To guarantee the legality of these activities, a state gaming commission must be created – something Hawaii is obligated to do under this bill. Ultimately, SB 1107 represents an excellent chance for people from all walks of life to experience poker table games and the lottery like never before!

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Keith-Agaran and McKelvey have taken strides to allow Hawaii’s citizens to participate in lottery games by passing Senate Bill 1107. Despite its commitment to tourism, Hawaii has not always been opposed to gambling.

Historically, many restricted or unregulated game dens have been scattered throughout the state. The passage of this bill will provide a legal avenue for Hawaiian residents who desire the chance to win big prizes that lotteries offer without compromising their home State’s identity as an ideal family destination.

Sadly, Hawaiians cannot enjoy the luxury of buying lottery tickets within their state. Three US states that don’t have lotteries โ€” Alabama, Alaska, and Utah โ€” remain conservative in their stance on gambling. On the other hand, Nevada is well-known for its abundant casino industry, which explains why there’s no lottery system.

The Potential of Gambling and Other Games Worthy of Poker News

SB 1107 draws its spotlight on the potential for online poker, providing residents of each state but Hawaii with the ability to join in – a disadvantage that should not be overlooked. The bill specifies one rule: individuals must be 18 or older to participate in this activity.

However, it only extends beyond that requirement due to the capacity for pooling between different states and regulations, permitting players from multiple locations despite having a limited player base. On top of all this, there may be hope regarding live poker venues! With luck on their side, Hawaiians could soon have access too.

Compared to SB 1107, HB 918 stands out with its distinct measures. When the original version of this bill was first released in December 2020, it made Hawaiian headlines; however, certain parts have been tweaked since then.

When first proposed, HB 918 sought to provide licenses for numerous poker sets and rooms and bet parlor establishments across Hawaii designed to accommodate tourists and locals.

Yet, post-submission, the bill developed into a measure that only authorized one large casino located at a hotel with lodging specifications to restrict live gambling by most Hawaiians to protect tourism on the island.

House Bill 918 proposed that casinos maximize their poker tables to nine players with a maximum of $1,500 per pot. With this measure, states like Montana are already reaping the benefits and ensuring each player’s contribution is accounted for properly.

However, there can be delays in calculating these contributions once the cap has been reached. Furthermore, up to thirty tables must exist at any given time for this bill to be effective.

HB 918 not only forces people to stay in the local hotel but also requires poker and sports bettors to pay a yearly fee and be 21 years or older. This is an immense difference from what was suggested in the Senate bill that proposed an 18-year minimum age for these activities.

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The Island Didn’t Want to Bluff and Bet

Despite the excessive amount of problem gambling experienced in Hawaii, mainly due to unregulated gaming houses in poorer areas, there is a complete absence of commercial or tribal casinos, racinos, and other forms of legal betting.

This makes Hawaii the only other state (apart from Utah) that has successfully prohibited all types of wagering activities, such as pari-mutuel wagers, sports betting, and iGaming.

These harms were supposed to be mitigated with the bills proposed in 2023, as the sooner a law would be enacted, the easier and faster these illegal gambling dens would be regulated.

A passionate proponent of legalizing certain forms of gambling, Mizuno opines that regulating sports betting in Hawaii would provide essential safety and security for the currently unprotected tens of thousands who gamble illegally via local bookies or foreign websites.

Rep. Mizuno contemplated drafting a bill that would have granted permission to open poker rooms in the state at first, then whimsically proposed an act that sanctioned both poker and sports betting parlors towards the end of December.

Ultimately though, he decided on solely endorsing online-only sport wagering laws. In response, Representative Elijah Pierick (R-District 39) voiced his profound dissent for gaming legislation by claiming it is an eternally doomed venture for lawmakers.

A popular online fantasy football platform has even publicly extolled that most current customers gamble responsibly and enjoyably. However, Hawaii’s concerns remain constant with potential legal gaming expansion: would it be worth the risk?

Numerous legislators have dismissed out-of-hand an estimated $7 million in yearly tax proceeds as insufficient compensation for such a hazardous endeavor.

Rep. Daniel Holt, Chair of the House Committee on Economic Development and a long-time advocate for sports betting and poker rooms, questioned whether dedicating seven million dollars yearly to this initiative was worth endangering our communities.

Hawaii’s a No-Go for Poker This Year

House leaders have declared that no gaming-related considerations will be provided this year following the rejection of Representative Mizuno’s Hawaii sports betting bill.

This news came as a relief to the Honolulu Police Department, which was opposed to it and encouraged its death in the Economic Development Committee.

Additionally, chances are slim even if there is still an opportunity for Senate consideration of any potential sports betting or gaming expansion statutes.

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