Hawaii lawmaker drops sports betting and casino bills

Ko Olina Beach Hawaii
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Multiple lawmakers are looking to bring more gambling to Hawaii this legislative session. Rep. Daniel Holt has introduced two bills in the House related to gaming. One would bring a broad strokes sports betting framework to the state while the other would allow for the building of a commercial casino on the island of Oahu.

Holt serves as the Chairman of the Committee on Economic Development, which will hear both bills in a meeting on Friday.

The sports betting bill, HB2765, lacks some of the specifics present in the Senate bill on sports betting from Sen. Ronald D. Kouchi. It would also allow for an open market compared to the monopoly proposed in Kouchi’s measure.

Holt’s bill would open up licenses to any operator live in at least three other regulated markets. The legislation did not specify what the license fees or tax rates would be for operators in the state. It would open up sports betting to anyone 18 and up.

The casino bill, HB2762, would allow for a single resort-style casino on the island of Oahu west of the resort community Ko Olina.

Those interested in pursuing the casino license would need to come with a $1 million license fee and a plan for hiring and incorporating native Hawaiians and Hawaiian culture into the property.

The casino would begin with a 70% tax rate on gaming for the first year of operation, then that rate would drop 5% each year before settling at 5% in the 14th year of operation.

Last year, when a Hawaii sports betting bill failed to gain traction in committee, Holt wondered if Hawaii was ready to consider sports betting given its incremental tax revenue. The fact he is now sponsoring a bill on the matter suggests he is thinking differently about the industry in 2024.