Hawaii House’s Economic Development Committee is Currently Reviewing House Bill 2765, Which Aims to Legalize Online Sports Betting in the state
HONOLULU, Hawaii (February 2, 2024) — The Hawaii House’s Economic Development Committee is currently reviewing House Bill 2765, which aims to legalize online sports betting in the state. The bill, introduced by Rep. Daniel Holt, seeks to regulate sports wagering with oversight from the Department of Business, Economic Development, and Tourism (DBEDT). The proposed legislation establishes a licensing framework for operators granted market access in Hawaii, a state with a population of approximately 1.4 million people.
An interesting aspect of HB 2765 is its statement that sports wagering should not be considered games of chance or gambling. The bill has gained support from major players in the sports betting industry, including DraftKings, FanDuel, Fanatics Sportsbook, and the Sports Betting Alliance (SBA).
Despite support from residents, the Honolulu Police Department has expressed concerns about the potential social and financial problems associated with gambling. In written testimony, the Narcotics and Vice Division Major Mike Lambert stated that gambling could lead to “social ills and financial ruin,” referencing studies on the impact of problem gambling.
A recent survey by Anthology Research in 2022 indicated that 73% of Hawaii residents support regulated online wagering for adults aged 21 and older. However, the differing opinions, especially from law enforcement, highlight the complexity of the issue.
This bill is not the only recent attempt to bring sports betting to Hawaii. Earlier, Sen. Ronald D. Kouchi introduced Senate Bill 3376, which proposes the establishment of a Hawaii Gaming Control Commission to oversee online poker and sports betting. SB 3376 suggests allocating tax revenue from wagering to a wildfire relief fund. According to estimates by the Sports Betting Alliance, regulated sports betting in Hawaii could generate an additional $9 million in annual tax revenue. Currently, the state experiences an estimated $277 million in unlawful wagering annually, according to data provided by SBA attorney Kathleen Owen.
The decision-making for HB 2765 is scheduled for Wednesday, Feb. 7, following its recent hearing. The ongoing discussions and multiple proposed bills underscore the efforts to navigate the legalization of sports betting in Hawaii.
To: House Committee on Economic Development
February 2, 2024, 10:30 a.m.
Testimony on H.B. No. 2765, Relating to Sports WageringTags: sports betting, Hawaii, Economic Development Committee, House Bill 2765