Hawaii Senate Receives iGambling Bill SB 677

On January 23rd, the Hawaii State Senate received a 29-page bill called SB 677 which seeks to legalize a range of online gambling activities, including the lottery, casino games and poker, but not sports betting.
Hawaii is one of just 13 US states that do not permit any land-based casinos operations in its jurisdiction. In the meantime, thousands of the island’s residents are known to already be gambling on unregulated, offshore sites, and at the heart of the new proposal is the need to provide a safe playing environment for gamblers, as well as channel funds towards state coffers. As a section from SB 677 explains:
“Tens of millions of dollars in revenues generated from online gambling are being realized by offshore operators serving Hawaii residents, but no benefits are provided to the State.”
Amongst the stipulations that the bill envisages for any organization applying for an iGaming license is that its board member should be prominent professionals without a criminal record. Online gambling operators will also need to provide all necessary information in order to help problem gamblers receive counseling.
In order for the piece of legislation to pass into law, it must first be approved in both the House of Representatives, and the State Senate before finally being signed off by Hawaii Governor David Ige. So far, just three US states have launched online gambling industries of their own, and none since 2013, although there is hope that a number of other states may join them in 2017, with the potential candidate list including Pennsylvania, California, New York, Michigan, Massachusetts and Washington State.
If eventually successful, SB 677 would pave the way for Hawaii to form liquidity sharing compacts with other US states, such as the one agreed between Nevada and Delaware. However, all efforts will be in vain if the Trump administration decides to roll back the 2011 re-interpretation of the Wire Act that subsequently enabled individual states to choses their own approach on the issue of online gambling.

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