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Supreme Court ruling could lead to sports gambling bills in Hawaii Legislature

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    People lined up to place bets in the sports book at the South Point hotel-casino today in Las Vegas.

Bills that would call for legalized sports betting in Hawaii are likely to be introduced in next year’s state Legislature in the wake of today’s stunning U.S. Supreme Court ruling, legislators say.

In striking down key portions of a federal law that had prevented New Jersey and other states from operating legal sports gambling, the Supreme Court has opened the way for states to join Nevada in offering sports wagering in various forms.

Hawaii is currently one of only two states — Utah is the other — without any form of legalized gambling.

“I mean, bills do get introduced on a yearly basis of different types of gambling, and with this (court decision) I would anticipate more bills being introduced,” state Rep. Sylvia Luke, chairwoman of the House Finance Committee, said.

State Senate President Ron Kouchi agreed. “I would think so,” he said in a text message.

But Luke said, ‘I think it is too premature to say if the Legislature or the public would be in support of it (sports gambling). That is something we would have to gauge.”

Kouchi said, “Beside the general issues, social issues, that are attendant, a lot of people aren’t aware of what federal law permits (for Native American) groups.”

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