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Hawaiian Legislators Propose Legal Sports Betting on Oahu to Combat Illegal Market

Written by: Mike Lukas
Updated January 12, 2023
8 min read
  • Hawaii Lawmakers Propose Bill to Legalize Sports Betting and Poker on Oahu.

  • Move Could Combat 7,200 Illegal Gaming Rooms in Hawaii, Create Affordable Housing

  • Hawaiians Spend $1B on Gambling in Las Vegas Annually

Hawaiian Legislators Legal Sports Betting Oahu

Hawaii Lawmakers Propose Bill to Legalize Sports Betting and Poker on Oahu

Travel west from California for about 2,000 miles over the Pacific Ocean and you will get to the state of Hawaii, a tropical paradise that is the 11th-least populous state in the union, a popular honeymoon and tourist destination where it is still illegal to gamble on sporting events.

That could change in 2023, as Hawaii lawmakers just proposed a bill to make sports betting and poker legal on Oahu while State Rep. John Mizuno works to create a standalone sportsbook and card room there, that’s according to local media source KITV4.

Those island leaders have no doubt been watching what has been happening over on the mainland as over thirty states have legalized, regulated, and tax their own sports betting market, their right to do so ever since the Supreme Court overturned PASPA in May 2018.

It takes a lot of time and cooperation along with plenty of compromises to create and pass a workable sports betting bill into law, while in the meantime residents are still gambling, they are just forced to use illegal and unregulated means to place their action.

Daniel Holt of Sand Island understands this, telling KITV4 that this move is simply a matter of:

"Being practical and knowing that these things are taking place on our streets every day.”

There is more black market gambling in Hawaii than state lawmakers might want to admit.

Move Could Combat 7,200 Illegal Gaming Rooms in Hawaii, Create Affordable Housing

According to KITV4, there are currently over 7,200 illegal gaming rooms in Hawaii “that can attract things such as drugs and prostitution,” which becomes a bad look for a state where tourism represents one-fourth of the economy, with millions of visitors arriving there each year.

Rep Mizuno says he believes that a legal and regulated sports betting and poker market will “help eliminate those [7200 illegal gaming rooms] and create a legal and safe avenue for people to gamble,” creating a securer and more respectable image for that tropical getaway.

The reality Hawaii faces is that the state is losing money yearly to all that illicit (and untaxed) gaming, and Rep. Holt seems to understand that a legal market could help to solve that problem, telling KITV4:

“By having a legal avenue to express their willingness to play these poker games we are going to get the tax revenue … we are taking an industry that is being unregulated and putting it into regulation and benefiting our communities at the same time.”

Those benefits will reportedly come in the form of affordable housing, a welcome bit of financial help in what is now considered the most expensive state to live in with a cost of living index of 193.3, which makes the cost of living in Hawaii nearly twice the national average.

Despite that, Aloha State residents still love to gamble.

Hawaiians Spend $1B on Gambling in Las Vegas Annually

Besides keeping those 7,200 illegal gaming rooms in the business, Hawaiian residents also like to travel out of state to place their bets, reportedly spending a billion dollars a year in Las Vegas, money that, with a legal market in place, could be redirected back home and taxed accordingly.

Hawaii’s next legislative session is scheduled to start on January 18 and won’t adjourn until May 4, 2023, time enough to at least get the sports betting debate started, an ongoing process that we will keep you up to date on so keep checking back for all the latest news and updates.

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Mike Lukas

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Mike Lukas is a retired standup comedian turned freelance writer now living in Dallas, Texas, originally from Cleveland, Ohio. His love for the game of football and all things Cleveland Browns turned Mike into a pro blogger years ago. Now Mike enjoys writing about all thirty-two NFL teams, hoping to help football gamblers gain a slight edge in their pursuit of the perfect wager. Email: [email protected]

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