Hawaii Resolution Calls For Examination Into Potential State Lottery

One of the few remaining states without a lottery is taking steps to join the party.

Hawaii is opening the door to adding lottery in the future, with state legislators requesting a deeper dive into the matter.

Last Friday, the Hawaii House Economic Development Committee moved forward with legislation that requires the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism to convene a working group to examine the feasibility of a state lottery.

The committee passed the two resolutions — HR 94 and HCR 113, which are the same thing — along to the Finance Committee with the recommendation of allotting $200,000 for the feasibility study. However, it added an amendment to move the deadline from 20 days before the start of the 2025 legislative session to 20 days before the start of the 2026 session.

Why? Because the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism is already tasked with several other studies, and it currently has two vacancies and another position that will go on leave soon through the end of the year.

What resolutions request for future Hawaii lottery

The proposed resolution would see a created group take a deep look at the potential of a state lottery. They would then submit a report of their findings and recommendations to the legislature no later than 20 days prior to the convening of the final regular session of 2026. This would be a retail-specific study, as the legislation doesn’t mention online lottery.

The resolution notes that Gallup polls have found that state lotteries are the most popular form of gambling in the US. It indicates that nearly 50% of adults have purchased a lottery ticket in the last 12 months.

The resolution also goes on to note that Americans spent $105.26 billion on lottery tickets in 2021. State governments brought in about a third of each lottery jackpot in taxes and revenue that year.

It also cites the Tax Foundation, which claims that state lotteries pay out an average of only 60% of gross revenue in prizes. That is compared to 90% for casino slot machines and table games.

Hawaii one of 5 states without lottery

Hawaii is currently just one of five states in the US that doesn’t allow the sale of lottery tickets.

It joins the likes of Alabama, Alaska, Nevada and Utah.

However, Alabama is in the process of trying to join the 45 states that offer lottery. Earlier this month, the state Senate advanced a gambling proposal bill that would allow a lottery in Alabama. The bill has moved onto the House. Legislators are attempting to bring the issue to the voters for the first time since 1999.

On top of not having a state lottery, Hawaiians are not able to purchase tickets for national lottery drawings like Mega Millions and Powerball.

In the other states without lottery, residents can purchase those tickets in bordering states. That’s not quite an accessible option for Hawaii residents.

The lottery issue isn’t new to Hawaii. State lawmakers have been on opposing sides of the matter for years.

Some view a lottery as an opportunity to help create funding for education departments and other programs that are struggling. Others see it as another way for the government to mismanage money. There are also concerns regarding responsible gaming over vulnerable residents spending money they can’t afford.

 

Photo by PlayiLottery

About the Author

Drew Ellis

Drew Ellis

Lead Writer
A member of Catena Media since 2020, Drew Ellis is the Lead Writer at PlayiLottery, where he handles coverage of the online and retail lottery industry in the US. He previously spearheaded news content at PlayMichigan, where he covered one of the most prominent online lottery industries in the US — among the many other aspects of Michigan's sprawling iGaming market. You can email him at [email protected].
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