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Hawaii Poker Bill Fails to Advance

Legislation Doesn't Obtain Hearing from House Finance Committee

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The state of Hawaii has bowed out of the race to legalize and regulate internet poker for at least one year, according to a Tuesday article by the Associated Press.

Hawaii, which is one of only two states in the country without legalized gambling of any kind, was trying to drastically change the gambling climate with Senate Bill 755. However, the legislation failed to obtain a hearing by the House Finance Committee. The bill had previously navigated out of the Economic Revitalization and Business Committee by a 7-1 vote and the House Judiciary Committee via a 9-3 victory.

The failure of the Hawaiian live-and-online poker bill was partly due to the tenacious concern in Hawaii, as well as in other places trying to push for intrastate legislation, regarding whether online gaming would bring about a spike or a decline in tourism. Dianne Kay, president for the Hawaii Coalition Against Legalized Gambling, said on Monday: “Legalized gambling would introduce an undesirable element to our islands, and would have a highly detrimental effect on the tourist industry.”

SB755, which sought to legalize Texas hold’em and Omaha games by redefining them as games of skill, would have allowed the state to host destination tournaments for popular poker tours, but could have gone further by allowing the state to serve as a potential home base for online poker operators. Similar to the idea of a minimum capital investment in the state of Nevada’s internet poker debate, Hawaii’s poker legislation would have set a fee of at least $100 million for each site to hold servers in Hawaii.