Hawaii to Consider Gaming Bill
The number of US states trying to introduce online gambling into their legislation is growing as next to New York, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts that have been actively working on this issue in recent months another US state joins their battle and that is Hawaii. Couple of days ago Senator Will Espero proposed a bill SB677 which aims to legalize online poker, online casino games and lottery in the state. The main aim of the bill is to tackle the issue of illegal online gambling in the state and to use the potential of online gambling to boost the economy.
Hawaii is one of the few states in the US that has no land-based gambling facilities on its territory. Perhaps this is why many of its residents engage in illegal online gambling activities via offshore channels. This means that Hawaiian bettors enter into shady operations and they are not protected in any way. According to Senator Will Espero this problem can be solved by allowing online gambling within the state and introducing a law that would regulate the internet gambling activity. With this in mind SB677 implies the foundation of a regulatory body, Hawaii Internet Lottery and Gaming Corporation that would monitor and regulate US online poker, US online casinos and lottery. According to the draft bill online sports betting would not be allowed while the law would also set age limit for players, so as to prevent those under 19 from taking part in gambling activities.
On the other hand, there is the financial aspect of this matter. Legalizing online gambling would mean that tens of thousands of dollars that are currently spent illegally through online gambling channels would be directed into the state budget and invested into the improvement of education system. Similarly to other states proposing iGaming laws, Senator Espero’s proposal also includes paying a licensing fee and imposing a tax rate on generated revenue from gambling. The new regulations would allow for the state to enter into agreements with other states, as well as organize land-based gambling events as a part of tourist offer.
Last year, there have been several attempts to introduce regulated gambling in the state of Hawaii. More than 10 draft bills were introduced regarding lottery, daily fantasy sports, installing slot machines on airports and many other bills. Whether any of them will pass the Senate and come into effect in 2017 remains to be seen, but it seems that it will be a long haul.
With all the efforts Hawaii and other states, especially Pennsylvania are making, there is a positive cloud over the prospects of legalized online gambling. Namely, this cloud is reflected in the face of Senator Jeff Sessions, new US Attorney General who is known to be a strong opponent of online gambling. He announced the revisiting of America’s Federal Wire Act, since he claims that he does not agree with its current interpretation, which allows the regulation of online gambling on a state level.
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