Despite Another Failure, Hawaii Sports Betting Makes Progress in 2024

Dan Favale
By , Updated on: May 21, 2024 08:00 PM
Despite Another Failure, Hawaii Sports Betting Makes Progress in 2024

For a fleeting moment, it looked like Hawaii sports betting might get legalized in 2024. And then, not unexpectedly, it fell apart.

In many ways, this is par for the course when it comes to sports betting in Hawaii. Multiple efforts have flopped in the past. Failure is the expectation. 

Naturally, this raises the question: What makes the latest attempt—and failure—different from the rest?

Allow us to explain.

2024 Hawaii Sports Betting Bill Made it Through the House of Representatives

Back in February, Hawaii’s House of Representatives Committee on Economic Development passed House Bill 2765, a measure aimed at regulating sports gambling in the Aloha State. The decision was somewhat surprising, given how little buzz it generated. 

However, it seems the details of the bill proved comprehensive enough to win people. Here are some of the most notable and intriguing parts of the proposed initiative:

  • Though online sportsbooks in the United States would be eligible for Hawaii sports gambling licenses, they would need to already have licenses in at least three separate jurisdictions to be eligible for consideration.
  • Licenses would be handed out on a three-year basis.
  • With that said, the bill notably did not specify the cost of applying for a Hawaii sports betting license.
  • What’s more, HB 2765 also did not specify the rate at which Hawaii online sports betting apps would be taxed.
  • The legal sports betting age in Hawaii would be set at 18, which is a deviation from the 21-year-old threshold in most other states.
  • Some of the tax revenue generated from Hawaii sports betting would be allocated to a “gambling mitigation program,” which the state notably does not yet have.

In addition to HB 2765, the House also advanced House Bill 3376, another initiative that would have legalized Hawaii online sports betting. While support for both measures was split, they ended up with more advocates than anticipated. 

So, what went wrong?

Why Sports Gambling Efforts in Hawaii Failed on the Senate Floor

Advancing to the Senate remains a big deal for HB 2765. But it’s there the bill ultimately crashed and burned.

Support for Hawaii sports betting in the Senate never gained momentum for a variety of reasons. Chief among them: moral opposition and a belief that Hawaii sports gambling revenue wouldn’t yield enough to make it a worthwhile endeavor. 

“I’m going to vote no against this bill,” Representative Elijah Pierick said at the time (via Covers.com). “[I believe] gambling is wrong and that the tax revenue from this isn’t going to justify its legalization.”

Many officials share Pierick’s sentiments. But not everyone. Moral obligations to gambling are one thing. However, recent projections suggest Hawaii could generate $9 million annually from the legalization of sports betting—figures that come from a lawyer representing the sports betting alliance. 

Perhaps more policymakers could have been swayed if HB 2765 included concrete details on tax rates and licensing fees. Those numbers can always be negotiated later, but revenue forecasts are much more trustworthy when you’re working with definitive benchmarks.

Safety concerns also propped up during Hawaii sports betting discussions. Plenty of people still believe increased access to sports wagering will result in more problem gambling. This sentiment isn’t wrong. States see an uptick in reported problem gambling whenever they legalize sports betting. But officials tend to see this as a controllable they can address moving forward. Many others also argue that making it illegal to bet on sports simply compels would-be customers to wager with unregulated sportsbooks offshore—a risky proposition, in many instances, in its own right.

What Does the Future Hold for Hawaii Sports Betting?

So where does this all leave the future of Hawaii sports betting? Believe it or not, in a better place than before.

Getting a sports wagering bill past the House is a significant accomplishment. Especially for Hawaii. They aren’t part of the contiguous United States, and their in-market sports options are limited accordingly. That’s why so many people think sports betting in Hawaii and sports betting in Alaska will never be top priorities or, if legalized, substantial moneymakers. Others, of course, argue that the legalization of online sports betting makes every league across the country (and global) more accessible. Put another way: Hawaii doesn’t technically need their own pro sports teams. Residents can easily follow and bet on other sports and events.

Still, more research clearly needs to be done on the subject. And, well, that’s another silver lining to come out from the latest failure. Sponsors of the bill are now supporting a study on the impact and potential of online Hawaii sports betting. Those findings will no doubt play a meaningful role in the next round of sports wagering talks.

It’ll be especially interesting to see how this study compares to one conducted in 2022. As Kathleen Owen, an attorney representing the sports betting alliance, wrote earlier this year: “According to a 2022 poll conducted by Anthology Research, 73 percent of Hawaii residents surveyed support legalizing and regulating online sports wagering in Hawaii for adults 21 years of age or older to generate annual tax revenue.” 

Surveys such as this aren’t the end-all. But between another study being put on the books, the House co-signing HB 2765 and the increased focus on Hawaii sports betting in general, it’s clear that the Aloha State is going to make this issue a larger priority moving forward.

Take a look at this list of the top online sportsbooks so you can find one that works for all of your sports betting needs:

  • EXCLUSIVE BONUS
    Bovada
    5/5
    50% bonus up to $250
    No Code Needed
    Play Now

    T&C apply, 18+, Play responsibly

  • BetOnline
    4.5/5
    100% bonus up to $1000
    No Code Needed
    Play Now

    T&C apply, 18+, Play responsibly

  • EXCLUSIVE BONUS
    BetUS
    5/5
    125% up to $2,500
    No Code Needed
    Play Now

    T&C apply, 18+, Play responsibly

  • Xbet
    5/5
    $500 Sign-up Bonus
    No Code Needed
    Play Now

    T&C apply, 18+, Play responsibly

  • BetNow
    4/5
    100% up to $1,000
    No Code Needed
    Play Now

    T&C apply, 18+, Play responsibly

  • MyBookie
    5/5
    50% bonus up to $1000
    No Code Needed
    Play Now

    T&C apply, 18+, Play responsibly

  • Bookmaker
    4/5
    100% up to $400
    No Code Needed
    Play Now

    T&C apply, 18+, Play responsibly

  • Sportsbetting
    4.5/5
    50% up to $1000
    No Code Needed
    Play Now

    T&C apply, 18+, Play responsibly

  • EveryGame
    3/5
    $500 Sign Up Bonus
    No Code Needed
    Play Now

    T&C apply, 18+, Play responsibly

  • WagerWeb
    4.5/5
    100% up to $1,000
    No Code Needed
    Play Now

    T&C apply, 18+, Play responsibly

  • BetDSI
    3/5
    100% up to $500 + $500 at BetDsi's Casino
    No Code Needed
    Play Now

    T&C apply, 18+, Play responsibly

  • BetNow
    4/5
    100% up to $450
    No Code Needed
    Play Now

    T&C apply, 18+, Play responsibly

Meet the author

Dan Favale

Dan Favale leverages over 12 years of sports journalism expertise in his role as New York staff writer. He provides in-depth analysis across the NBA, NFL, MLB, NHL, tennis, NASCAR, college basketball, and sports betting. Dan co-hosts the popular Hardwood Knocks NBA podc...

Online Sports Betting may receive compensation if you sign up through our links. Rest assured, we avoid biases and provide honest opinions on sportsbooks. Read our affiliate disclosure here.