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Hawaii lawmakers push for gaming regulation with trio of new bills

Friday saw a flurry of gambling-related activity in the Hawaiian legislature with new bills introduced for daily fantasy sports (DFS) and online gaming, while a third bill to establish a state lottery remains pending.

Senator Michelle Kidani introduced Senate Bill 677, which would see the Hawaii Lottery and Gambling Corporation established as a new state-owned entity, and SB204, which aims to legalise daily fantasy sports.
The corporation created by the first bill would be responsible for organising online gambling in the state to increase funding for public schools and the University of Hawaii. It would create scholarships and educational loans for medical students that practice in Hawaii for ten years, as well as tackling problem gambling.
Kidani argues that Hawaii residents are already gambling frequently via illegal sites, and that the state should take advantage of the US Department of Justice's 2011 Wire Act opinion which opened the door for regulation. 
The new Lottery and Gambling Corporation would be allowed to offer lottery, poker and casino games to Hawaiians over the age of 18, and would be required to issue a tender to select an iGaming platform provider. The corporation would also have the power to enter into liquidity pooling compacts with other states.
As a state-owned corporation it would be exempt from any tax, but would direct an as yet unspecified percentage of revenue to the educational programmes it funds.
SB677 was introduced Friday January 20th and is yet to be referred to committee.
Kidani also introduced Senate Bill 204, a bill to legalise daily fantasy sports (DFS) contests, in response to last year's opinion from the Hawaii Attorney General stating that DFS contest were illegal in the state.
SB204 proposes a DFS monitoring and registration programme within the Attorney General's office, offering paid contest operators the opportunity to apply for three-year licences. The proposal also includes regulations on information security, prohibition of participation by minors and employees of operators and their families, and a requirement to clearly identify experienced players.
SB204 was introduced and read for the first time on January 20th and referred to the Senate Judiciary and Labor Committee, and the Ways and Means Committee.
A third bill earmarked for introduction by Speaker of the House Joseph Souki and his deputy John Mizuno, House Bill 348, seeks to authorise the establishment of the Hawaii State Lottery Commission within the department of accounting and general services.The Hawaii State Lottery Commission would be made up of five members - one appointed by state Governor David Ige, two appointed by Senate President Ron Kouchi, and two appointed by House Speaker Joseph Souki. The Commission would in turn appoint an executive director to administer the lottery.

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