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Clock Expires for Online Poker in Hawaii

However State Could Soon Study the Impacts of the Industry


Hawaii, one of only two states in the country without legalized gambling of any kind, has had its latest efforts to create such an industry drift away in the legislature.

In late January, lawmakers in the Pacific introduced a handful of bills aimed at establishing not only brick-and-mortar gaming and lotteries, but real-money online play as well.

The office of Rep. Angus L.K. McKelvey, one of Hawaii’s Internet gaming backers, told Card Player that all the measures are currently dead.

However, Hawaii is still weighing its options.

A pair of proposals were introduced earlier this month to study the social impacts of a casino in Waikiki.

McKelveyRep. McKelvey’s office said Monday that although the plan is to study a brick-and-mortar operation, language can be changed to include a survey of Internet-based gaming as well.

According to one of the bills, the issue of legalized gambling in Hawaii has been studied and considered numerous times since statehood. More than 150 attempts at legalizing gambling have came and went over the past 30 years. The last crack at online poker failed in April 2011.

“Those opposed to legalized gambling argue that all forms of gaming are ‘immoral’ and will lead to an increase in crime, addiction, and the breakdown of families and communities,” the study bill states.

In December 2011, the state of Iowa finished off a similar project to study the industry. However, the report didn’t do much for efforts there, as lawmakers tried again for Internet poker but failed late last week when the House decided not to take up the issue.

Hawaii and Iowa aren’t alone in their legislative failures. Earlier this month, Mississippi had an Internet gaming idea disappear into an uninterested House.

California and New Jersey, both with active bills, stand the best chance to play catch up with Nevada. The Silver State legalized Internet gaming in summer 2011 and is gearing up to launch an intrastate industry in the near future.

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Follow Brian Pempus on Twitter — @brianpempus