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Online Gambling in Hawaii: an Expert Guide

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Gambling in Hawaii

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Our Guide to Online Gambling in Hawaii

Hawaiian gambling laws are as restrictive as any in the United States. In fact, only one state can match Hawaii for its comprehensive ban on gambling: Utah. Both states have 100% prohibition of gambling. In Hawaii, people cannot legally gamble in casinos, sportsbooks, bingo halls, or race tracks. Online casinos and card rooms are undoubtedly banned. No form of gambling is legal.

Interestingly, the chance that Hawaii might one day legalize online gambling seems much greater than the same prospect in Utah. Unlike Utah, Hawaiian lawmakers sometimes have sponsored bills to legalize Internet gambling, such as Michelle Kidani’s Senate Bill 677 in 2018. Those measures never have gotten much traction, but it indicates that realistic politicians believe in the possibility. For the time being, though, Hawaiian gambling laws ban all forms of gaming.

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Hawaii Online Gambling Laws FAQ

Hawaii Online Gambling Laws

A quick breakdown of Hawaii gambling laws.

712-1220 et seq.: What Is Gambling?

“Staking or risking something of value upon outcome of a contest of chance or uncontrollable future contingent event in order to receive something of value.”

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

“Gambling Paraphernalia and Gambling Promotion: Possession of gambling records, promoting gambling, bookmaking, illegal. Social gambling permitted as long as not committed in a hotel, motel, bar, nightclub, or any business establishment or public place. Must be of majority age.”

Gambling is defined as staking something of value on a contest of chance. Hawaii’s laws place a lot of emphasis on gambling paraphernalia. Casino cruises are rendered illegal because it is illegal to have slot machines and other gambling devices on a ship, whether gambling is taking place on the ship or not. Social gaming is legal, though it is barred from hotels, bars, and nightclubs.

Hawaii Revised Statutes 712-1220: Gambling Offenses

“‘Contest of chance’ means any contest, game, gaming scheme, or gaming device in which the outcome depends in a material degree upon an element of chance, notwithstanding that skill of the contestants may also be a factor therein.”

“‘Gambling’.  A person engages in gambling if he stakes or risks something of value upon the outcome of a contest of chance or a future contingent event not under his control or influence, upon an agreement or understanding that he or someone else will receive something of value in the event of a certain outcome.  Gambling does not include bona fide business transactions valid under the law of contracts, including but not limited to contracts for the purchase or sale at a future date of securities or commodities, and agreements to compensate for loss caused by the happening of chance, including but not limited to contracts of indemnity or guaranty and life, health, or accident insurance.”

“‘Bookmaking’ means advancing gambling activity by accepting bets from members of the public upon the outcomes of future contingent events.”

Hawaii’s latest laws on gambling set out definitions for bookmaker, contests of chance, and general gambling. As you might imagine, every conceivable form of gambling is banned. If it has a “material degree upon an element of chance”, the game is considered gambling. Skill games like darts and billiards are legal, though.

Advancing Gambling Activity

“A person ‘advances gambling activity’ if he engages in conduct that materially aids any form of gambling activity.”

“Conduct of this nature includes but is not limited to conduct directed toward the creation or establishment of the particular game, contest, scheme, device, or activity involved, toward the acquisition or maintenance of premises, paraphernalia, equipment, or apparatus therefor, toward the solicitation or inducement of persons to participate therein, toward the actual conduct of the playing phases thereof, toward the arrangement of any of its financial or recording phases, or toward any other phase of its operation.”

Almost anyone involved in a gambling den’s operation is considered to have “advanced gambling activity”. That means the manager of the operation, but also the person who owns the building in which the gambling takes place. It’s an important distinction, because in other jurisdictions, landlords have claimed (sometimes with justification) they had no idea their tenant was operating an illegal gambling den. Hawaii doesn’t give much leeway to landlords.

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