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Internet Gambling Bill Introduced in Hawaii

A group of state senators in Hawaii want to take another chance on internet gambling. In congress a poker bill has been stalled for over four years and because of congressional inaction many states plan to operate their own internet gambling sites. Almost a year after a similar bill failed in the house Hawaiian state senators Donovan M. Dela Cruz, Gilbert Kahele and Malama Solomon introduced a similar bill this January that would legalize interactive poker, lotteries and other casino games. The bill’s purpose is to ‘protect’ the estimated tens of thousands of Hawaiian residents that currently gamble on the internet and “capture revenues generated from internet gambling.”

The bill states “It is in the best interest of the state and its citizens to regulate this existing activity by authorizing and implementing a secure, responsible, and legal system for internet gambling.” The bill would give the Hawaii Internet Lottery and Gaming Corporation the responsibility of overseeing and regulating gambling in the state and once established the board of the corporation would have 180 days to set up a regulatory framework “governing its internet gaming operations.”

The corporation would be in charge of picking an interactive gaming operator that could provide the state with a turnkey solution. Any operator that accepted real money bets from within the United States prior to September 20, 2011 would be considered “unsuitable” to provide interactive gambling services in Hawaii. The new gambling bill would allow Hawaii to enter into agreements with other states where internet gambling is legal. Nevada, which has legalized online poker, is also in favor of interstate gambling compacts.

Last year’s proposal was a surprise to many since all forms of gambling are illegal in Hawaii. The bill points out the shift in the role of internet gambling within societies and says “The legislature finds that internet wagering on games of chance and games of skill has evolved into a core form of entertainment for millions of individuals worldwide.” Revenues generated by internet gambling would be used for public schools, the University of Hawaii and student loan repayments for medical students who agree to practice in the state for 10 years. Funds would be allocated for the prevention and reduction of problem gambling.

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