A lawmaker is introducing legislation to legalize online sports betting in Hawaii amid the gaming boom currently being experienced throughout the US. Rep. Mizuno, who has filed House Bill 1815, argues that the push to allow sports gaming would bring additional revenue to the state, plus help bring an existing market out of the shadows.
“Number one, you want consumer protection. You don’t want that guy or gal getting ripped off from some offshore company account trace after they put their money in electronically,” Mizuno (D) said, according to KHON 2. “Number two, you want regulation.”
Mizuno’s push for the legalization of online sports gambling in Hawaii comes as the market takes over the nation, with 31 states and the District of Columbia now accepting legal betting in some form. The American Gaming Association has predicted about $7.61 billion was wagered on Super Bowl LVI, on Sunday.
“You are going to see millions of dollars wagered on this game, and tens of thousands of people from Hawaii or local residents will be gambling on illegal websites that are offshore,” Rep. Mizuno said. “I will bet you or a friend or family member is betting on the Super Bowl.”
According to the cited source, Mizuno’s proposal for sports gaming intends to tax legal online betting in the islands at 55%, which would put Hawaii at the top in terms of a tax rate, above New York’s 51% rate. The representative believes this would mean good news for Hawaii.
“New York just passed theirs. They have a ton of taxes on it, but it’s gonna go to a lot of good social programs,” Rep. Mizuno said. “Capture some of the tax revenue — which could go for a lot of good things like Hawaiian Homelands, affordable housing, and education for kids.”
Mizuno’s proposal also calls for part of the revenue kept by the state to be earmarked for programs to help gambling addicts and problem gamblers to recover. Additionally, he is calling for a commission “to watch over” so if a Hawaii resident faces problem gambling, “he or she can get the help that they need.”
The bill also seeks to create a Hawaii online sports wagering corporation to conduct and regulate gaming. It would be managed under the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism.
House Bill 1815 has passed its first reading and the representative hopes it will head to the committee next, having been scheduled for the Committee of Economic Development. If approved, it would imply a significant shift in Hawaii’s approach to gambling: along with Utah, it is the only state outlawing all forms of gaming.
Last month, Hawaii media reported Mizuno had also introduced separate legislation, HB 1820, which seeks to legalize gambling in the state, allowing for a single casino in Waikiki. The standalone venue is expected to reinvigorate tourism and nightlife businesses in the Honolulu neighborhood, on the south shore of the island of Oʻahu.
“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,” the bill reads.
The legislation further notes that, by comparison, other forms of gambling such as lotteries, iGaming and non-casino electronic gambling, create “few quality jobs” and do not generate “significant economic development” in the state. According to the bill, polls have shown that more than 70% of Japanese, Chinese and Korean visitors approve of a casino in Waikiki.