The optimism for a sports betting push quickly went into shambles. It’s safe to say that the operation wasn’t meant to be this year.
The Aloha State Will Have to Wait Yet Again
On Wednesday, the House Committee on Economic Development listened to the testimony of DraftKings and a sports betting advocacy group. However, they ultimately decided to defer HB 344, indicating a limited interest in sports betting in Hawaii or the potential tax revenue it could generate.
Sports betting has its benefits, and its drawbacks, as the public’s money is on the line. Committee Chair Rep. Daniel Holt believes sports gambling isn’t worth pursuing for just $7 million in annual revenue because he doesn’t want to put communities at risk.
Sports betting isn’t completely dead, but Rep Holt’s withdrawal may have signaled the end of the push this year. Rather than speaking about sports betting, Holt’s comments may be tied more to his efforts to regulate the black-market cardrooms.
Pat Gibbs, Counsel for the Sports Betting Alliance, stated that sports betting has the potential to bring in an annual revenue of $6.7 million for the state. It is estimated that 276,000 individuals engage in offshore betting each year. Holt wanted an answer to see how legalizing sports betting would crack down on illegal markets.
DraftKings government affairs manager Rebecca London stated, “By legalizing this, it gives law enforcement an additional enforcement mechanism because they know who is licensed and who is not.”
The Reasons Why Advocates Wanted Sports Betting to Join the Aloha State
Each year, millions of dollars are poured in from tourists visiting the islands. Adding sports betting markets and other types of markets would certainly bring in more revenue for the state to combat issues like homelessness, mental health issues, and other programs that could use the extra funding.
Vice Chair Rachele Lamosao and Rep. Elijah Pierick were the only two lawmakers that spoke about responsible gaming in the state and requested more data on offshore sports wagering. Pierick asked, “Can you help us understand how sports wagering would not harm the poor?… I believe gambling is basically praying to the poor for sources of income.”
London responded by saying the platform has features like self-imposed limits. In addition, DraftKings is committed to continuously pushing for responsible gaming in the industry.
There is Just No Luck in Hawaii
For the last few years, lawmakers who are major advocates for sports betting in the state have failed to get anything rolling. This is the seventh bill that was dismissed in that specific span.
Despite the possibility of a later launch, the Aloha State will have to wait again, but there is still some hope hanging on by the fringe for this year. Gibbs cited a poll conducted by Anthology Research which showed that 73% of adult residents in Hawaii are in favor of legalizing sports betting.