Hawaii is one of the latest states to explore legal sports betting, but that attempt has recently been put on hold. There are several factors that led to this delay, but lack of information and support are two of the biggest reasons.
The House Economic Development Committee held a meeting this week to discuss the recently introduced sports betting bills, but the next step was not taken. HB 736 was ultimately deferred, but that bill could be back on the table soon.
This bill would not have legalized sports betting permanently, but it would create a pilot program that would last until 2025. If this pilot program were to launch, mobile sports betting licenses could be issued to online-only operators.
DraftKings is one company that has expressed support for the pilot program, and they would likely be one of the companies willing to offer online sports betting in the Aloha State. Illegal sports betting is prevalent in the state of Hawaii, and lawmakers are looking to keep some of that revenue in the state.
There is still plenty of work to be done before this pilot program is approved, but this doesn’t mean that sports betting is officially dead at this time.
Opponents Speaking Out
While House Bill 736 did have some support from members of the sports betting industry, there were also some opponents that spoke out. This is a common trend that occurs in the US every time lawmakers are looking to legalize sports betting.
The Honolulu Prosecuting Attorney’s Office was one of the most vocal in opposition to gambling law changes, and a number of reasons were listed. The biggest concern was an increased crime rate in Hawaii, especially when it pertains to domestic violence.
Plenty of Gambling Bills Introduced
Sports betting was included in a number of new gambling bills that were introduced in the early part of 2021. At this time, there are no legal forms of gambling in Hawaii, but a huge budget deficit has caused some lawmakers to look to change that.
While most of the bills focus on sports betting and daily fantasy sports, there was also a proposal submitted for a brand new casino resort that would become a huge revenue source. The state could also explore the possibility of launching a lottery system, which would be the first for Hawaii.
US Market Continues to Grow
One of the biggest reasons that Hawaii is continuing to explore sports betting is due to the massive growth of the entire US industry. In the latest figures reported, total sports betting handle neared the $3.5 billion mark.
Hawaii is not likely to be a large sports betting market at any point, but there could be plenty of interest. This state is already one of the biggest tourist attractions in the US, and adding sports betting could attract a new wave of visitors.
Sports betting operators would be willing to establish online sportsbooks in Hawaii, but it’s unclear how many of them would look to set up a retail location.