Hawaii Casinos, Gambling, and Law Regulations: An Overview

Hawaii is one of the two states in the US (the other being Utah) that prohibits all forms of gambling — not even bingo for charitable purposes is allowed. The state’s law defines gambling as “betting something of value on a contest of chance.” In Hawaii, engaging in gambling is considered a misdemeanor offense. Without any land-based establishments, many Hawaiian residents chose to break the law by playing in underground gambling enterprises or on offshore sites, but we would strongly advise against it.

This article explains the Hawaii gambling laws in detail, covering the specifics of what you can’t do when it comes to gambling.

Top 3 Hawaii Online Casinos

1
Sign Up 240% up to $/AU$ 2,400 + 40 Spins
us  Players Accepted
2
Sign Up 220% up to
us  Players Accepted
3
Exclusive Sign Up 100% up to $ 3000
us  Players Accepted

History of the Gambling Laws in Hawaii

When Captain James Cook discovered the islands in 1778, gambling was a popular pastime among the Hawaiian residents during the Makahiki festival. From October to February, people could place bets on various games and contests — even non-participants could bet on the outcome of the competition. However, the popularity of the festival declined over the years and, in the 1800s, the American missionaries forbid gambling on moral grounds. In August 1825, native chiefs met and placed a prohibition upon vice, gambling, theft, and violation of the Sabbath.

Hawaii has been a gambling-free zone since the State joined the US in 1959. Not even horse racing or bingo is allowed, and if local lawmakers legalized gambling, that would hurt the economy. Hawaii is one of the few states that don’t have a state lottery and all the bills designed to change that have failed so far. The state authorities are under the impression that the State shouldn’t try to compete with Las Vegas and that the introduction of land-based casino establishments would be detrimental to the local businesses because tourists would start spending money in the casinos instead.

However, there have been efforts to legalize gambling in Hawaii. Back in 2010, the state considered to set up a stand-alone casino in Waikiki, but the idea was soon dismissed. In February 2010, the state House Finance Committee rejected a bill to allow casinos on Hawaiian homelands.

In early 2011, the State nearly legalized poker. A bill was introduced to define poker as a game of skill which would make it exempt from the state gambling law. In March 2011, the bill made it past the Judiciary Committee but didn’t receive a House Finance Committee hearing due to the lack of necessary public support.

The lawmakers in Hawaii proposed a bill in 2013, pushing for the creation of a Hawaii Internet Lottery and Gaming Corporation. However, it did not make it through the state’s legal process. The reasoning for such a decision can be seen in one of the bill’s excerpts:

“Moreover, tens of millions of dollars in revenues generated from online gambling are being realized by offshore operators serving Hawaii residents, but no benefits are provided to the State. To protect Hawaii residents who gamble on the Internet, and to capture revenues generated from internet gambling in Hawaii, it is in the best interest of the State and its citizens to regulate this existing activity by authorizing and implementing a secure, responsible, and legal system for internet gambling.”

Hawaiian gambling laws are strict, as they prohibit gambling aboard ships or in casinos of any kind and wagering on horse or dog races. In fact, the only type of gambling allowed in the Aloha States is social gambling, but only if it is not committed in a motel, hotel, nightclub, bar, or any business establishment or public place.

Social poker is allowed in Hawaii, but there are strict rules surrounding this type of game. To begin with, organizers cannot make any profit for hosting the games. The law even states that the host of social poker games is not allowed to make a profit by selling beverages or food.

Online Poker

Neither online poker nor any form of the popular casino table game is legal in Hawaii. Even if the state’s gambling industry makes its first steps soon, it’s highly unlikely that online poker will be legalized for at least another couple of years. That said, Hawaiians should play private games of poker rather than breaking the law on offshore sites.

Online Gambling

Although the Aloha State doesn’t explicitly forbids online gambling, the general prohibition is strict and extensive enough to cover all internet gambling activities. Any individual who is caught to gamble in Hawaii can face up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $2,000. There are certain laws exceptions when it comes to social gambling, but online players can’t take advantage of this.

Hawaii Gambling Laws Concerning Indian Tribal Lands

Many states in the US that explicitly forbid land-based casinos allow Indian tribes in the state to open casinos in reservations under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, but not Hawaii. Since the Aloha state prohibits all gambling without exception, it can, under IGRA, regulate gambling on tribal lands.

FAQ

Are there any casinos in Hawaii?

No, there aren’t, due to strict gambling laws.

Is there any form of gambling legal in Hawaii?

The only kind of gambling allowed in the Aloha States is social gambling, but only if it is not committed in a motel, hotel, nightclub, bar, or any business establishment or public place.

Is daily fantasy sports legal in Hawaii?

Daily fantasy sports are illegal in Hawaii.

Why there aren’t any Native casinos in Hawaii?

Hawaii and Utah are the only states that prohibit all forms of gambling, and as such can regulate gambling on Native American Lands, according to the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act.

What are the consequences of gambling in Hawaii?

Gambling is a misdemeanor offense in Hawaii and you could be charged up to $2,000 and be sentenced to up to one year in the country jail.