Hawaii Sports Betting Bill Filed for In-Person and Online Wagering

Hawaii has emerged as the next state to consider legalizing sports betting. A bill filed on Wednesday in the House of Representatives seeks to take advantage of last year’s Supreme Court ruling by authorizing sports wagering for state residents both in-person and online.

HB 1107 is vague on certain details such as where sports betting would take place and how the activity would be taxed, but it does provide a general sort of look into what lawmakers have in mind.

First of all, HB 1107 proposes the creation of the Hawaii Sports Wagering Corporation to operate, regulate and oversee sports betting in the state. The corporation would then be given 180 days to select a sports wagering operator, thereby establishing Hawaii as a single-provider sports betting state.

Establishing a monopoly sports betting operator is not ideal when it comes to creating the best possible product for customers, but considering Hawaii’s discomfort with all forms of gambling, it also isn’t surprising that lawmakers would want to maintain as much control over the industry as possible.

The corporation’s board of directors will also be asked to come up with rules and regulations governing a variety of topics such as:

  • Types of wagers allowed
  • Physical location where sports wagering may occur
  • Forms of payment accepted and prohibited
  • How wagers are graded winners or losers
  • Manner and time of payment
  • Responsible gambling
  • Conduct of the chosen sports wagering operator
  • The sports wagering platform
  • “Any and all other matters necessary” to ensure a successful sports betting operation

Under HB 1107, the Hawaii Sports Wagering Corporation would be governed by a seven-member board of directors. Three directors are to be appointed by the governor, two by the president of the senate and two by the speaker of the house of representatives.

Once the first board of directors is appointed, its members will have 180 days to adopt the rules and regulations necessary to implement sports betting.

Online and Mobile Betting in Hawaii

Hawaii’s lack of an existing gambling infrastructure makes the question where sports betting would even occur particularly interesting. HB 1107 does not go into great detail on that front but does detail certain technical requirements to such an extent that it’s clear lawmakers have their eye on mobile and online betting in Hawaii.

In describing the operators’ duties, HB 1107 explains it will be responsible for “all the technology infrastructure, software, and operations support necessary for the development, operation, and maintenance of the facility and website…”

Other technology duties of the chosen operator include providing solutions for the following:

  • Game software and graphics
  • Computer hardware
  • Server hosting
  • Player account registration and management
  • Geolocation services
  • Age verification
  • Responsible gaming controls
  • Anti-collusion and security tools
  • And more

The chose sports betting operator would also be responsible for marketing the product and providing customer support.

Is this bill likely to pass?

It’s hard telling at this stage and there are indications going both ways. Hawaii is one of the most anti-gambling states in the country, so any bill seeking to legalize sports betting faces an uphill battle from the start.

It’s always a bit of a surprise when a sports betting bill is introduced in Hawaii considering the state’s long-running aversion to all things gambling. Hawaii is just one of two states (the other being Utah) with no forms of legal gambling. Casinos, racing betting and even fantasy sports are all prohibited in Hawaii currently.

On the other hand, this isn’t the first online sports betting or gambling bill to be introduced in Hawaii. A bill introduced in 2017 sought to establish a commission to examine the social and fiscal impacts of legalizing online gambling and sports betting. Additionally, bills to introduce online casinos and poker were introduced in 2013 and 2017.

None of those bills managed to gain much traction, but they also had fewer sponsors willing to attach their names to them. HB 1107 filed this week lists twelve introducers: Chris Todd (D), Ty Cullen (D), Cedric Gates (D), Troy Hashimoto (D), Daniel Holt (D), Dee Morikawa (D), Takashi Ohno (D), Richard Onishi (D), Sean Quinlan (D), Ryan Yamane (D), Kyle Yamashita (D) and Mark Nakashima (D).