Hawaii is one of only two US states that do not currently have any form of legal gambling. But it appears possible that Utah may soon hold that distinction alone, as Hawaii is among the first states to consider legalizing online casinos after the recent Federal DOJ developments.
In late January 2012, bills were introduced to the Hawaii Senate and House that would create a “Hawaii internet lottery and gaming corporation” to oversee online gambling offered to the citizens of Hawaii. (The text of the bill is available at the Hawaii government site as House Bill 2422 and Senate Bill 2980.)
What does the bill offer?
The bill provides for the offering of “internet wagering on games of chance and games of skill, including lottery, poker, and casino games”, and also considers the possibility of agreements with other states to offer multistate gaming. The bill also introduces the idea of using free-play and sweepstakes games to offer Hawaii destination vacation prizes to players outside Hawaii. Also, two land-based events per year could be held in Hawaii as another way to attract tourists to Hawaii.
One of the more interesting provisions buried in the bill is a requirement that the online gaming provider selected by the new corporation could not have offered gambling to US citizens before the DOJ’s recent letter.
As with any such legislation, the introduction of a bill is hardly an indicator that the bill will actually gain much support among lawmakers. However, it is certainly fascinating that the state of Hawaii with its long-held opposition to land-based gambling is perhaps going to be now at the forefront of the movement to bring regulated online casinos to US citizens.