State Senator Ronald D. Kouchi of Hawaii has introduced Senate Bill 3376, a piece of legislation that aims to position the Aloha State as a destination for sports betting and poker.
Unlike previous attempts, SB 3376 takes a distinctive approach by allocating tax revenue generated from wagering toward a wildfire relief fund. The bill, which passed its first reading last week, addresses economic losses of approximately $6 billion from wildfires in Hawaii last year.
The proposed legislation seeks to establish a Hawaii Gaming Control Commission, paving the way for the authorization of online poker and sports betting in the state.
The taxation framework outlined in SB 3376 is designed not only to provide relief for wildfire victims but also to combat illegal gambling activities, which the state legislature estimates involve tens of thousands of Hawaii residents.
Advocacy group The Sports Betting Alliance projects that regulated sports betting in Hawaii could generate $6.8 million in annual tax revenue. SB 3376 proposes a tax rate of 70% for the first year of wagering, decreasing by 5% each subsequent year. The bill outlines a stringent application process for operators, with only one entity gaining market access after completing the arduous requirements. Mobile betting would only be allowed, as the bill doesn't mention retail wagering.
Prospective operators would apply for a wagering license within 60 days of the application window opening, providing a detailed development plan that includes estimates of potential employees, economic benefits to the community, projected gross receipts, and a training plan for employees.