Aloha, friends. Welcome your guide for all things gambling in Hawaii. We may have some of the strictest gambling laws in the country, but recent developments offer a glimmer of hope that one day we too may one day be able to visit casinos and bet on sports in Hawaii.
Are there any forms of gambling in Hawaii that are legal?
Hawaii is one of two states (along with Utah) that does not permit any form of legal commercial gambling.
Home poker games and social gaming like fantasy sports contests and cribbage tournaments among friends are legal in Hawaii. Any form of commercial gambling is illegal. Charities may not offer bingo or raffles. There is no state lottery, and sports betting in Hawaii remains illegal.
Cruise ships that begin or end a voyage in Hawaii may not spread casino-style games on the boat.
Las Vegas is a top tourist destination for Hawaii residents. That is where most residents go to gamble. Several airlines fly this popular route. Boyd Gaming shuttles players to and from the islands. Las Vegas is often referred to as the Ninth Island in Hawaii.
Legal Hawaii Gambling
Hawaii has almost no legal gambling whatsoever. State law currently outlaws sport betting casinos, lotteries, racing betting, fantasy sports and even games of skill played for money. There are exactly zero options for legal online gambling of any type in Hawaii today.
The only exception for gambling in Hawaii is made for “social gambling” games in which all of the following conditions are met:
- Players compete on equal terms with one another
- No player receives anything of value, directly or indirectly, apart from his or her personal winnings
- It is not conducted in a business establishment or public venue of any type
- All players are above the age of majority
- The gambling activity is not sports betting
What this all means is our options are extremely limited at this time. Aside from social games played at home, there are no real outlets for actual gambling or sports betting in Hawaii. Some of our lawmakers have indicated an interest in changing the law, and for that we remain hopeful that one day we will see legal Hawaiian betting sites.
Online Gambling in Hawaii
There are no forms of legal online gambling in Hawaii. This applies to both live and online forms.
Online Gambling Laws in Hawaii
HI Rev Stat §712-1220 makes risking something of value on a contest of chance or future contingent event outside the bettor’s control a crime. It is a misdemeanor. While Hawaii law does not specifically mention online gambling, the state attorney general has opined that it does.
Land-based Casinos in Hawaii
There are no land-based casinos in Hawaii. This includes cruise ships. Most residents that want to gamble take a direct flight to Las Vegas. Online casinos are also illegal in Hawaii.
Casino Laws in Hawaii
Casinos in Hawaii are illegal. This is done through the outlawing of betting on games of chance under HI Rev Stat §712-1220. This law also applies to the internet. No serious discussion to legalize casinos in Hawaii has ever materialized. The state prefers to concentrate on its traditional tourism industry.
Sports Betting in Hawaii
Sports betting is illegal in Hawaii. Retail sportsbooks and online betting are outlawed in all circumstances.
The current legal situation for online betting in Hawaii may look bleak at first glance, but a closer look reveals the slightest of undercurrent signaling the potential for change. For example, bills introduced in 2013 and 2017 sought to begin the process of initiating change in our gaming laws. Those bills failed to gain any significant traction, but some lawmakers have indicated they are still interesting in taking a closer look at legalizing casino games, sports betting and more.
The fact that Hawaii prohibits nearly all forms of gambling does not bode well for change in the immediate future. In a state that bans casinos, sports betting, racing betting, daily fantasy sports and even the lottery, legal sports betting seems like a longshot over the near term.
However, some lawmakers have indicated they are open to change. A bill introduced in 2017 proposed the state forming a commission to analyze “if gaming would be feasible in Hawaii, and, if so, what form of gaming would be most appropriate for Hawaii.”
Another bill also introduced in 2017 wanted to establish the Hawaii Internet Lottery and Gaming Corporation to legalize and regulate online gaming and wagering in Hawaii. This bill would have resulted in legal online games of skill, lottery, poker and casino games but not sports betting.
Both bills failed to gain any traction before being shelved at the end of the legislative session, but the fact that they were even introduced shows attitudes and opinions toward gambling are slowly changing in Hawaii. One day, Hawaii could very well see legal online gambling or even sports betting.
A 2018 Supreme Court decision overturning the federal prohibition of sports betting lends further hope that one day Hawaii may legalize sports betting. Shortly after that decision, the Honolulu Star Advertiser reported that bills calling for legal sports betting would be introduced in the next legislative session.
Additional bills to authorize sports betting were introduced in 2019 and 2020. Nothing came of those efforts, but again, it goes to show sports betting does have some allies in one of the most anti-gambling states.
The wheels of government turn slowly, but Hawaii appears to be drifting to a friendly view of sports betting.
As other states continue their own pushes for legalization, pro-gambling lawmakers in Hawaii will be able to point to those other states as examples worth following. We do not expect to see change overnight, but we do believe Hawaii has a realistic shot at legalizing sports betting at some point in the future.
Sports Betting Laws in Hawaii
Section §712-1220 of the Hawaii Statutes forbids making a wager on a future contingent event. This includes sports.
Poker in Hawaii
Poker is considered gambling in Hawaii. All forms of commercial gambling are illegal in the state. Online poker is also illegal.
Poker Laws in Hawaii
Section §712-1220 of the Hawaii Statutes makes live poker illegal as it is making a wager on an outcome beyond the control of the participant. Online poker is covered by the same law. Some attempts were made by lawmakers to legalize online poker in Hawaii around 2010. These efforts received no serious consideration.
Home Poker Games
HI Rev Stat §712-1231 permits gambling if done in a social setting. Home poker games and many other forms of social gaming are permitted in Hawaii under certain conditions. A home poker game or other form of social gaming must be in a residential structure or park setting. The house may not profit off the game or provide any form of complimentary goods or services to players. The game must be fair and not related to bookmaking of sports or racing events. All participants must be at least 18 years of age.
Fantasy Sports in Hawaii
Fantasy sports sites operated in Hawaii until 2016. That is when the state attorney general published an opinion stating that fantasy sports contests are not a game of skill under Hawaii law. This made commercial contests where a fee is taken illegal under state law. All daily fantasy sports sites withdrew from Hawaii once that opinion was released.
Fantasy Sports Laws in Hawaii
There are no laws that specifically address fantasy sports contests in Hawaii. In 2016, Hawaii Attorney General Doug Chin issued a formal advisory opinion stating that fantasy sports violate state law when operated as a commercial venture. All daily fantasy sports companies left Hawaii after this opinion was issued.
Hawaii is one of five states without a lottery. The others are Alabama, Alaska, Nevada and Utah.
Hawaii Lottery Laws
Section §712-1220 of the Hawaii Statutes forbids placing bets on games of chance.
Hawaii Horse Racing Betting
Betting on any form of race is illegal in Hawaii. This applies to live race books and online ones.
Hawaii Horse Racing Laws
Section §712-1220 of the Hawaii Statutes forbids placing wagers on contingent events like a race. The only exception is among participants in the event as a test of skill.
Hawaii Skill-based Gaming Laws
Hawaii makes exceptions to its gambling laws for skill-based gaming. A wager by participants in a contest of strength, skill or speed is permitted. Observers making wagers on these events would be considered bookmaking.
eSports are not mentioned anywhere in Hawaii laws. Players making wagers would fall under a skill game in most cases. Viewers doing so would violate bookmaking laws.
Traditional Games of Skill
Skill game sites like Worldwinner accept players from Hawaii. There is no limitation of the types of contests or games players from the state may enter.
Skill-based Gaming Machines
Skill-based gaming machines are legal in Hawaii. However, cash may not be a prize. It must be awarded as a gift through redemption of tickets or similar tracking device.
Hawaii Charity Gambling Law
There are no special charity gaming laws in Hawaii. Non-profit organizations may not spread games like bingo or raffles for money.
Hawaii Gaming Regulatory Directory
As all forms of commercial gambling are illegal in Hawaii, there are no regulatory agencies in the state.