Hawaii Dives into Gambling Law with Poker Bill

Game of skill exemption for NLH/PLO, super-taxation for online sites

by , Mar 24, 2011 | 6:56 pm

Only two states in the US have no legal gambling — Hawaii and Utah. Could be just one soon, say supporters and opponents alike of a bill in Hawaii that would specifically legalize Texas Hold’em and Omaha poker, live and online.

The bill, which passed out of committee yesterday, looks to make Hawaii a destination for big-time live (and televised) poker events … as well as a potential home base for online sites serving US players … by designating the foundations of Pokerati NLH/PLO as games of skill, not played against a casino “house” and therefore exempt from state gambling prohibitions.

PPA Exec Dir. John Pappas supplied written testimony for the hearing, suggesting that the way this current bill is crafted could be problematically prohibitive, as it seeks to charge $100 million for a server license and impose a 20 percent tax on all wagers while potentially challenging federal law. Pappas, however, did not provide any statement on the economic impact such a law would have on Waikiki vendors selling T-shirts like these:

The Hawaii poker bill — originally written supposedly to provide a tax holiday for buying school supplies — passed out of the Economic Revitalization & Business Committee on a 7-1 vote, and the House Judiciary Committee, 9-3. It now moves on to the House Finance Committee.

(Mahalo Poker Gnome for the heads-up.)

2 Comments to “Hawaii Dives into Gambling Law with Poker Bill ”

  1. Christian

    Unfortunately, this bill will not allow the people of Hawaii to participate in any form of gambling still. All it does is allow big wig WPT tours and the like to hold their regulated contests in our state and will allow for internet poker servers to be located on island, the licensing for which will be a minimum of $100,000,000. Sound ridiculous, right? I do not support this bill and encourage others not to support this bill as it does nothing for the people of Hawaii but only helps the overspending state government make back some of the money that it spent on seriously ludacris things. The media may make it seem that the people of Hawaii will be allowed to participate in online gamiling on sites such as FullTiltPoker.net and the likes, but as far as I am concerned, I don’t even think the state will allow Hawaii residents to participate in any live poker tour event that stops in the islands. This state is in a sad, sad state.

  2. MasterChef Geno Hardin

    I’m seeing a few “Sweepstakes” gaming rooms opening around O’ahu in small strip-malls with “Store-Front” advertising. These rooms have average of 20 gaming machines that pay out credits, exchanged for “Script” to buy merchandise on a website.
    Are these “Hidden” casino’s legal according to Hawaii statutes?
    If the game is a game where some skill is placed on the player (holding a reel in a slot machine to improve outcome of winnings) does that make it legal in Hawaii?
    I’ve operated machines like these in California, and had the ATF/ABC/FBI so deep in my arse I had to pull the plug. But our law-suit against CA was just settled in our favor last month stating: “If a player is able to alter the outcome of a gambling type machine, it becomes a game of skill-“Not Chance”. In other words, on a slot machine, with 3 reels and 8 lines of payout potential, the player can elect to stop reel 1-3. When the reel stops, it will haveĀ a winning symbol on it encouraging him to hold another reel to increase his odds of winning.

    I’d really like to know if this type of gaming is legal in Hawaii. If “Dave and Busters” or “Fun-Factory” can dole out tickets to exchange for prizes on their gaming devices, to be exchanged for something of value, such as merchandise, “How is that Legal” opposed to the type of machine described above?

    Mahalo for “Any” input!