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Hawaii is one of two US States which have no gambling legislation at all. This means there are no casinos, not even land casinos, and this beautiful State is now contemplating the introduction of legislation and regulation for gambling online. The other US state that has no regulation for gambling at all is Utah, and this is quite understandable considering Utah is basically a Mormon-run state. Both states prohibit any form of gambling at all – not even state operated lotteries.
For Hawaii this situation may be changing as three bills have been introduced, and if they are passed by the House of Representatives, the Pacific Ocean State will get internet gambling in most of its forms. The last bill goes into detail regarding Internet gambling and explains that this pastime has become popular with people all over the world. Concern has been expressed that players in Hawaii are frequenting online poker sites as well as casinos, and as these operations are offshore and not regulated, this makes the gamers more vulnerable.
Punters in Hawaii obviously want to be able to play online gambling games, and the first bill wants the establishment of a state lottery commission; thereby lottery ticket sales. The second bill takes care of the establishment of live or land-based casinos, and the last bill – HB 2422 looks at creating an Internet Lottery and Gambling Corporation. This corporation would be tasked with the authorization of ‘internet wagering on games of chance and games of skill, including lottery, poker and casino games.’
They wish regulations to comply with the recent US Department of Justice’s detailed opinion which makes clear the tenets of the Wire Act, and its connection to the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act. This in essence would mean that all forms of online gambling would be allowed – barring sports betting.
Introducing the three bills at the same time means that Hawaii is being decisively forward thinking; they are certainly not mucking about! Should the last bill for online gambling be passed, then, Hawaii would be able to enter into agreements with the official gambling entities of various other US state to offer ‘multi-state games’.
Of course these agreements and gambling entities would have to comply with both Federal and State law. But there is no legislation currently in place at Federal level which allows for online gambling. However, the DoJ about-face opinion on matters of the Wire Act has made a difference to the possibilities for developing an online gambling industry in the United States.
What Hawaii is essentially looking for is attracting more tourism, so, the thought is that Hawaii could offer free-to-play games or sweepstakes to residents of other US states, offering prizes that are Hawaii-related. For example holidays on the island. The belief is that this could create ‘free’ marketing exposure for the state and the businesses situated there, which are also obviously feeling the effects of the recession. Revenue from these actions have been earmarked for the improvement of public schools, capital improvements for the University of Hawaii, and programmes for the prevention of problem gambling.