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QUICK PROGRESS FOR HAWAIIAN INTERNET GAMBLING BILL
Posted 3/25/11 : SB755, passes through two committees and is on its way to a third
In the Hawaiian legislature, a new bill designed to legalise online poker has enjoyed a remarkably fast and positive progress, passing a joint hearing of the Economic Revitalization and Business Committee and the Labor and Public Employment Committee Wednesday afternoon.
Bill SB755 is now on its way to the state House Finance Committee for further discussion.
The chair of the Economic Revitalization and Business Committee, Rep. Angus McKelvey,
said revenue raised by the poker games could pay for school supplies tax breaks and other worthy programs.
The measure seeks to permit “peer-to-peer internet gaming” involving “human players competing against other players from around the world in a virtual gaming room that is hosted by the licensed site.”
The authors of the bill may be a little ambitious in costing the two operator licenses envisaged by the bill at $100 million and a further 20 percent of total wagers in state tax, however.
Republican minority members of the committees voted against the bill, but Democratic Party members were in favour, although some expressed reservations, and there appeared to be some confusion among certain politicians as to whether online gambling was legal in Hawaii or not.
Rep. George Fontaine, a retired Maui police officer, set the record straight.
“Online gambling is illegal, period. Whether you’re doing it from your living room on a computer to some server in the Bahamas, it’s still illegal, regardless of whether people do it or not,” Fontaine claimed.
Rep. Cynthia Thielen, asked why testimony received on the revised bill was uniformly favourable.
“Its very strange that we don’t have opposing testimony from groups that have been so vigilant against keeping gambling out of Hawaii,” Thielen said. “I believe they’ve been caught by surprise.”
McKelvey said the bill would be forwarded to the House Finance Committee where opponents could testify against it.
“I’m sure opponents will be more than vociferous about this,” the committee chairman said.
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