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Gambling in Hawaii

Hawaii Gambling LawsHawaii casinos are nonexistent. There are two states in America that have absolutely no legal gambling, Utah, and Hawaii. Gambling in Hawaii is not permitted by law, which means you cannot find any casinos operating in the region. The gambling legislation in Hawaii is so strict that the legal definition of gambling encompasses every game of chance played for monetary gain. Therefore,  Hawaii gambling laws do not permit casino gambling. There’s no sports betting either, or lottery games and even charitable gambling is not allowed.

Browse through our guide to learn more about Hawaii gambling laws. You can also find out if you can gamble on your next trip to Honolulu. The Hawaiian Islands also make mention of players using gambling devices in the legislation that describes betting in the state. There are no online gambling sites in Hawaii as it is not permitted to participate in internet gaming.

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What you will find in this Hawaii Gambling Guide

Hawaii Gambling Laws

There is no equivocation when it comes to the interpretation of the gambling laws in Hawaii. The Aloha state has banned all forms of gambling, including online casinos. The Hawaii gambling laws define gambling as any activity where a person risks their money on an event or contest of chance whereby the outcome is unknown. This definition, while rephrased, encompasses all of the games that you can play on the casino floor. It also includes staking money on sports games and races whereby the result of the competition is unknown. All of these activities are not legal in Hawaii.

The law extends its definition to ban all charitable gambling conducted by non-governmental organizations (NGOs) as well as at churches in Hawaii. There has been several attempts to change the legislation around gambling on the island. Back in 2010, there were discussions over the gambling laws in order to allow patrons that visited Hawaii to have gaming options while on the island. Amid much of the excitement the bill had garnered, Hawaii law officials, and anti-gambling lobby groups contested the legalization and the bill was killed.

In Hawaii,  gambling is defined to interweave all forms of the activity, meaning all contests of chance where one risks their money on the outcome of future events. The legislation clearly stipulates the grounds were staking on games to receive (win) something of value as illegal in Hawaii. In the past,  casino operators in most states in the United States attempted to bypass the anti-gambling law by placing slot machines onboard cruise ships. The state reacted by adding a section that speaks to gambling on boats as law:

“Gambling on Ships: Gambling aboard ships is illegal. Possession of gambling devices, e.g. slot machines, illegal.”

Sports Betting in Hawaii

The Hawaii gambling definition does not exclude wagering on sports events. Therefore, it is still illegal to make sports betting wagers. One of the major reasons why all forms of betting have been outlawed in Hawaii is that the state wants to retain the attraction of being solely a tourist destination. Patrons that come to Hawaii should only come for the purpose of experiencing the beauty of the countryside and scenic landscape in the state. This is different from the time when racetracks were the talk of the town.

Back in the 1800s, horse racing was reserved for royal families in Hawaii. The wealthy class of the day would use race events to showcase their expensive clothing and network with families in the same rank. The races grew in popularity and filtered down to ordinary citizens until it was put to an end in the 1950s. Nowadays, you cannot find parimutuel betting machines or racetracks in Hawaii. Patrons that still make sports betting wagers do so with full knowledge that if caught, they face harsh penalties.

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History of Gambling in Hawaii

Like most things before prohibition, gambling in Hawaii was quite popular and within the arms of the law. In the state’s formation in 1959, gambling laws have been changed based on the government that presided on the day. Back in the day, you could place bets on horse events but now you can’t.

At the time when Hawaii casinos were operating, state officials objected to casino gaming thought to be taking money away from the tourism in the state. The funds that are generated from seeing the sites around the island goes a long way to boosting the local economy of Hawaii. It was this justification that prompted the banning of all types of commercial gambling devices, including slot machines.

Gambling in Hawaii FAQs

Is gambling allowed in Hawaii?

No, there is no form of gambling that is allowed in Hawaii. This relates to lottery tickets, horse racing events or any kind of sports betting; none of these offerings are permitted, not even bingo games.

Can you gamble on board a ship in Hawaii?

Hawaii used to have cruise ships that had casino games on board once upon a time. This is no longer the case. Cruise ships that come to Honolulu are not supposed to have any gambling activities on board. Players would have to visit neighboring islands to find legal gambling venues.

Is social gambling legal in Hawaii?

Social gambling is allowed but under strict parameters and specific games. Playing poker at the pub socially is accepted within the restriction that there is no profit gained through participating in the game.

Is poker legal in Hawaii?

No, poker games that offer players the chance of winning money are not permitted in Hawaii. Patrons can play poker games at pubs in Hawaii, but the requirement is that there are no buy-ins. The game is only played for entertainment purposes.

Is online gambling illegal in Hawaii?

Gambling on the internet or using a device to place a bet on a future event is not allowed in Hawaii.

Why is gambling not allowed in Hawaii?

There are several reasons why the state legislature in Hawaii has consistently denounced attempts to legalize gambling even after the Supreme Court ruling. There is the belief that gambling would take away the feeling of a scenic tourist destination that the Hawaiin islands are. Even at the risk of not receiving the projected revenue from gambling, the state is adamant about not introducing gambling in Hawaii.

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