As we go deeper into 2024, proposed legislation in Hawaii seeks to legalize online poker and sports betting, marking a major departure from the state’s traditionally rigid attitude toward gambling. Senator Ronald Kouchi, a Democrat, is the driving force behind this bill, which has the potential to bring about a sea change in a state that up until now has not had any legal casinos or card rooms.
Ambitious Plans for Revenue Sharing
If approved, the bill would pave the way for the Aloha State to welcome its first casino as well as other forms of internet gambling including poker and sports betting. A fundamental component of the plan is a revenue-sharing agreement with one casino operator, where the state’s portion gets smaller over time.
The proceeds that are produced via all of this will be designated for the wildfire fund of the state, to reduce the destructive effects of wildfires such as those that occurred in Maui in August.
The bill also seeks to establish a regulatory framework that protects Hawaii residents while collecting taxes from online gambling, since it recognizes that many locals use offshore gaming sites. Supporters of the proposal want to divert monies from offshore online sports betting and poker into public coffers, which they believe would be good for everyone in the state.
Currently, the bill does not include provisions to join the Multi-State Internet Gaming Agreement (MSIGA), which allows shared liquidity among poker operators in other states. However, this aspect of the bill may evolve as the legislative process progresses.
A Growing Trend
Whether Hawaii’s unique approach, coupled with its focus on wildfire relief, will garner enough support to pass the bill remains to be seen. Still, the proposed legislation in Hawaii reflects a broader trend across the United States, with other states like New York and Maryland also exploring the possibility of legalizing online poker.
The regulated US online poker market is currently dominated by operators like WSOP/888 network, BetMGM, and PokerStars, each with a significant presence across several states. Now iPoker is poised to join the fray and players in state markets like Hawaii may soon have more options. The exact timeline for iPoker’s entry remains uncertain, but there’s optimism about significant progress soon. iPoker’s potential presence in the US market could unfold through partnerships or its network by late 2024 or 2025, promising an exciting period of growth and diversification.