Our Complete Guide to Gambling in Hawaii

Outside of Utah, where the Mormon Church’s conservative views make gambling a
sin in the eyes of the state, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a state with
gambling laws that are more strict than those in Hawaii.

The tropical paradise is home to beach bungalows and megaresorts, but not a
single casino, card room, bingo hall, racetrack or similar gambling venue can be
found across the archipelago’s eight islands. The law even prohibits charitable
gambling activities overseen by churches and community organizations – games
which are rarely targeted even where gambling is under a blanket ban.

As the last state to enter the Union, and one located over 2,200 miles from
its nearest American neighbors, Hawaii is a world unto itself. The cultural
melting pot there, combined with relative isolation, has created a place where
progress seems to move at a slower pace.

For that reason, as states across the country move to relax historically
strict gambling laws, Hawaii has stayed firmly rooted in the status quo.

Of course, efforts are always being made to bring Hawaii into the modern ages
when it comes to gambling, as highlighted by a 2010 push to legalize casino
resorts in Honolulu. But year after year, local lawmakers, lobby groups and
concerned citizens push back on the issue, banishing gambling bills to the
legislative scrapheap.

Today, visitors to Hawaii will find every source of pleasure in abundance –
aside from the joys of casino table games, slot parlors, sportsbooks and poker
rooms.

The following page was written as a guide to the intricacies of Hawaiian
gambling law, so take a look below to take a tour of the islands’ intricate
collection of codes, statutes and other restrictions placed on gamblers.

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Online Gambling and Hawaiian Law

Can I Gamble Online in Hawaii?

When it comes to gambling, Hawaii is decidedly behind the times, so it stands
to reason that the idea of gambling over the internet would be similarly
stunted.

Indeed, online gambling laws on the islands are practically non-existent – a
phenomenon which can be traced to that “status quo syndrome.” Simply put, the
original laws written to ban gambling didn’t address the internet, because there
was no internet at the time. Therefore, the current laws don’t specifically
address the issue one way or another.

You’ll learn more about those laws in greater detail by exploring the set of
three questions posed below.

But for now, let’s take a moment to accept reality – Hawaiians are already
gambling online, and they’ve been doing so for two decades and running.

The ease of access provided by the internet makes the idea of borders and
jurisdictions illusive, and the rise of offshore online gambling sites reaches
across the Pacific with ease.

Players in Hawaii need only run a quick Google search for their game of
choice – be it casino games like blackjack and roulette, virtual slot machines,
poker cash games and tournaments or sports betting – and the screen will
immediately light up with sites serving the market. The question of the day,
then, isn’t “can I gamble online in Hawaii?,” but rather “where should I gamble
online?”

Where Should I Gamble Online in Hawaii?

Unfortunately, the online gambling industry isn’t immune to hucksters and
frauds, so you’ll invariably encounter stories about players being cheated,
owners absconding with the bank, collusion between grinders and the scourge of
unpaid jackpots. By and large, these stories will be true.

Your goal as an online gambling enthusiast living in Hawaii should be
bringing your bankroll to the safest, most reliable and reputable sites doing
business today.

And fortunately, there are plenty of operators who realize how the game must
be played. These sites are run with respect for customers as the main priority –
not profit. But how can you tell the schemers from the success stories?

Online gamblers tend to be a vocal bunch. Once one of us gets ripped off or
treated poorly by a site, we’ll let the world know about our grievances.
Whenever you’re considering a new online gambling platform, the first thing to
do is run a thorough search for the site’s name along with red-flag terms like
“cheated,” “fraud” and “complaint.”

Because it’s the internet, you’ll always find some good and some bad when
searching for anything, so it’s up to you to be discerning and wade through the
muck.

Try to stick with the major online gambling review sites (they’ll usually be
posted at the top of a Google search), and be sure to compare notes from as many
as you can find. If a site you’re thinking about has a high ratio of bad
comments and complaints, move on until you find one that players agree does
right by the community.

Other aspects of a reputable online gambling site to look for include quick
and easy deposit and withdrawal methods (Visa and MasterCard, and virtual
wallets like PayPal and Skrill, are your best bets). As you might suspect, sites
have no problem letting you put money on, but when it comes time to claim your
winnings, several problems can take place.

Always check the review pages for comments about withdrawal issues. The top
indicator of a site’s unscrupulous nature is an inability – or unwillingness –
to compensate customers who win.

We’ll give it to you straight here: offshore online gambling sites can be a
risky business. That’s why we prefer to keep our action limited to the above sites – because these platforms have earned their reputations over years of steady
service and commitment to customer service.

Also On This Page

Is Online Gambling Legal in Hawaii?

That all depends on how strictly you interpret the letter of the law.

Under Section §712-1220(2) of the Hawaii Statutes, gambling is defined as
follows:

“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.”

And under Section §712-1223, gambling is labeled as a misdemeanor criminal
action:

(1) “A person commits the offense of gambling if the person knowingly
advances or participates in any gambling activity.

(2) Gambling is a misdemeanor.”

Obviously, these laws – which were codified in 1972, before the dawn of the
digital age – don’t address online gambling specifically. What they do address,
however, does prohibit the act of wagering itself.

Therefore, from a strictly technical sense, gambling in any form – whether it
be at a brick and mortar card room or an online casino – is banned by Hawaii’s
notoriously strict laws on the matter.

Furthermore, Section§712-1220(5) includes a provision outlawing any devices
used to effect gambling:

“Gambling device means any device, machine, paraphernalia, or equipment that
is used or usable in the playing phases of any gambling activity, whether that
activity consists of gambling between persons or gambling by a person involving
the playing of a machine.”

Clearly, this 1972 legal language targets slot machines, roulette tables and
other equipment used in casino gambling (as lawmakers at the time couldn’t
anticipate the use of computers, laptops and mobile phones to place wagers).
Either way, the use of the term “any device” in the entry above would certainly
appear to cover the technology of today so long as it is used to facilitate
“gambling between persons.”

Finally, in January of 2017 state senator Will Espero (D-19) introduced
Senate Bill 677, which sought to legalize and regulate the online gambling
industry throughout Hawaii. Espero hoped to see Hawaii follow in the footsteps
of Nevada, New Jersey and Delaware – the three states to have successfully used
the DOJ’s 2011 Wire Act reversal as the basis for passing online gambling
legislation.

Espero’s bill included the following passage, which framed the need for
online gambling regulation as a consumer protection issue:

“Tens of thousands of Hawaii residents are estimated to participate in
illegal online gambling on unregulated internet web sites. These gambling web
sites are operated by illegal offshore operators not subject to regulation or
taxation in the United States.

Questions often arise about the honesty and the fairness of the games offered
to Hawaii residents, but neither federal nor Hawaii laws currently provide any
consumer protections for Hawaii residents who play on these web sites. Moreover,
tens of millions of dollars in 2017 revenues generated from online gambling are
being realized by offshore operators serving Hawaii residents, but no benefits
are provided to the State.”

Espero immediately labels online gambling as “illegal,” a term which is
repeated shortly thereafter in reference to operators. Despite public support
for the issue, Espero’s bill quickly died off in the Senate, leaving Hawaii as
one of only two states in the Union (along with Utah) which offers no form of
legalized gambling whatsoever.

Clearly then, online gambling is far from legal in Hawaii – but that’s the
case across the United States with the exception of those three states mentioned
earlier.

The real question should be, “Is online gambling illegal enough for
authorities to care about my personal bankroll?”

The third question in this section addresses that matter in greater detail,
but for now, you’ll be happy to know that recreational players simply looking to
place a bet on blackjack or basketball aren’t being targeted.

Just think back to Espero’s bill, which doesn’t hesitate to note that “tens
of thousands” in Hawaii are counted as online gamblers. A quick Google search
for “Hawaii online gambling arrests” will confirm that the jails and prisons
aren’t bursting at the seams, and no special squad is on the lookout for online
slot jackpot winners. The authorities know that Hawaiians are gambling online,
and even have a rough estimate of how many do so – but they aren’t racing to
lock those people up.

Instead, leaders like Espero are working behind the scenes to legalize online
gambling across the board. That’s an encouraging sign, and one which strongly
suggests that ordinary players who enjoy the occasional online gambling session
aren’t subject to any undue scrutiny.

Are Offshore Gambling Sites Safe?

That all depends on which sites you’re talking about.

After all, the online gambling industry is a topsy-turvy world – one in which
new sites emerge seemingly every day, while the big boys on the block acquire
competitors and consolidate through mergers.

Knowing which offshore gambling platform to park your bankroll with is a
major priority for any player, but it’s an especially important step for
beginners just learning the ropes. Taking your action to the wrong site can
prove to be a disastrous experience, whether from unscrupulous operators
refusing to payout, substandard technology that doesn’t ensure a fair game, or
even outright cheating.

Just ask fans of poker superstar Phil Hellmuth about UltimateBet, the online
poker room he repped back during the poker boom. For years, UltimateBet was
considered a viable, reputable member of the industry until a massive
“super-user” cheating scandal was exposed in 2008.

In that case, it was an operator of the site – 1994 WSOP Main Event winner
Russ Hamilton – who used his access to earn ill-gotten gains, fleecing several
high-profile poker pros out of millions because he could see every hole card on
the table.

Stories like this are actually quite rare in the online gambling world, but
because of their sensational nature, they are widely publicized by the
mainstream media. For good reason too, as players everywhere should always be
well aware of the risks involved whenever they decide to gamble online.

But these stories can also leave a bad taste for casual players – many of whom
have come to believe that all online gambling is “rigged” against them.

In reality, sites like the ones we’ve recommended are all run by well-established
operators who have worked diligently to build respected, reputable and reliable
companies. For these sites, the short-term gains that may be secured by
operating scams and frauds simply can’t beat the steady profit margins attained
by the biggest and best online gambling destinations.

Put another way, keeping everything on the up and up is in their best
interest – and these sites do everything in their power to ensure that players
are satisfied with the platform’s safety and security.

The formation of independent auditors and regulatory agencies like the
London-based eCommerce Online Gaming Regulation and Assurance (eCOGRA),
Technical Systems Testing (TST) out of Vancouver and several others has
strengthened the industry from the inside out. By relying on these services to
independently monitor online casinos, sportsbooks, poker rooms and other
gambling services, today’s top operators take no chances when it comes to game
integrity.

The random number generators (RNGs) used to spin the reels on your favorite
virtual slot are routinely tested, video poker variants are studied to ensure
they comply with standard odds and every cent of player funds deposited is
tracked to ensure separation from operator accounts. Measures like these have
made the modern online gambling industry a relative marvel compared to the “Wild
West” days of a decade ago.

Every industry has its share of bad apples, and no apologies need to be made
for the Russ Hamiltons of the world.

With that said, 2017 is quite a different era when it comes to online
gambling. Most of the grifters have been identified and isolated, leaving behind
an industry that is largely dominated by professional businesspeople who
recognize the importance of keeping their customers content – and coming back
for more.

Can I Get Arrested for Gambling Online in Hawaii?

With no laws on the books to address online gambling, local authorities would
have little recourse when trying to punish players.

And indeed, the vast majority of police officers and prosecutors on the
islands – or anywhere for that matter – have no interest in pursuing victimless
“vice” violations like playing a poker tournament over the internet.

Even so, the nebulous nature of many illicit online betting rings can lead to
ordinary players being caught up in the dragnet.

On the operations side, the state has been aggressive in targeting online
casino and sportsbook owners who ostensibly use their site’s cashflow for money
laundering purposes. A pair of high-profile cases in 2013 and 2014 saw two major
online sportsbooks raided by a team of agencies working in tandem – including
the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Internal Revenue Service (IRS),
Homeland Security Investigations (HIS) and the Honolulu Police Department (HPD).

While those investigations were launched to bring down the people overseeing
sports betting sites, dozens of players were also arrested and ultimately forced
to forfeit significant sums in fines and penalties.

However, the reason these bettors were brought down wasn’t necessarily
because they wagered on sports, but rather their involvement with the gambling
ring itself. In the modern world of illegal online sportsbooks, sites use a
pyramid-like affiliate system in which regular bettors are rewarded for
recruiting new customers. Those new players are then invited to participate in
the recruitment scheme, earning free bets and other incentives from convincing
new bettors to come onboard.

The system was described thusly in a 2014 press release issued by the FBI,
detailing the crimes and penalties faced by participants in a multimillion
dollar online sportsbook operation:

“U.S. Attorney Nakakuni said that according to law enforcement
investigations, in the last several years, dozens of Internet bookmakers have
come into existence, many of whom are located in foreign countries where
bookmaking activities are not illegal. These bookmakers direct their activities
toward bettors in America, who are interested in gambling on American sporting
events such as baseball, football, and basketball.

The prosecution identified Felix Gee Wan Tom, age 40, of Honolulu, as the
master agent for in excess of 20 agents located primarily on Oahu. As a master
agent, Tom recruited, trained, and supervised the agents and provided agents
with login credentials (username/password) for use by players to access his
Internet sports betting websites. Tom also collected gambling losses from and
made payments on gambling winnings to his agents, and split profits with agents.
The investigation also revealed that many agents also recruited sub-agents
(lower-level bookies or runners), who also had their own client base.”

Dozens of ordinary bettors turned recruiters ultimately pled guilty to the
charges of transmission of wagering information and filing false tax returns –
before being fined and forced to turn over their winnings, along with property
and assets gleaned from their wagering activity.

This fact alone would make the answer to your question in the affirmative, as
individuals in Hawaii have indeed been arrested and convicted for gambling
online.

With that said, the circumstances of the case above – and several others like
it in recent years – have one thing in common: collusion.

Simply put, unless you’re actively working with an online sportsbook or
gambling site in some capacity – recruiting new players, participating in
affiliate programs, etc. – your chances of reaching the authorities’ radar are
slim to none. Players who confine their action to betting alone just don’t seem
to bother investigators like those who work to perpetuate – and profit from –
online gambling operations.

More Gambling Laws in Hawaii

  • Casino Gambling: (Illegal)
  • Tribal Gambling: (Illegal)
  • Poker: (Illegal)
  • Horse Racing Betting: (Illegal)
  • Dog Racing Betting: (Illegal)
  • Lottery: (Legal with Restrictions)
  • Bingo: (Illegal)
  • Daily Fantasy Sports: (Illegal)
  • Charitable Gaming: (Illegal)
  • Social Gambling: (Legal with Restrictions)

As we stated earlier, Hawaii occupies a proverbial “no-man’s land” when it
comes to gambling, as it’s the only state aside from Utah that enforces a
blanket ban.

Even in the strictest of Northeastern states – places like Vermont where
almost all forms of gambling have been banned dating back to the Puritanical age
– exemptions are made for industries like a state-operated lottery, or social
gambling for the sake of charity.

They aren’t messing around in Hawaii, though. No state lottery system has
ever been implemented – or even seriously explored. As usual, public demand for
lotteries and other casual gambling sectors is strong on the islands, but they
are consistently pushed back on the subject and the status quo has kept in
place.

Under Hawaiian law, players have the right to purchase out-of-state lottery
tickets when visiting the mainland, but sale of such tickets on the islands is
prohibited. Any winnings from such lottery play are then taxed heavily under
state law.

That issue was clarified in 2016, when the Attorney General’s office ruled
that gambling on mainland lottery programs is akin to playing slots in Las Vegas
– and therefore perfectly legal:

“Hawaii residents are taxed on the worldwide income they make, regardless of
where they make it. If a Hawaii resident earns income from a job in another
state, they must report that income, and the same holds true for winning lottery
proceeds.

Money won by a Hawaii resident in Las Vegas or anywhere else in the world
where gambling is legal is taxable income and should be reported.”

This had led to a common trend in which Hawaiians band together and send
significant sums with somebody heading off-island. Their job is purchase the
requisite number of Powerball tickets, or the player’s preferred lotto format,
before bringing the cache of tickets back home to be divvied up.

Of course, with no legal lottery apparatus operating in the state, winning
tickets scratched off or drawn in Hawaii must be brought back to the mainland to
be cashed in.

This is all perfectly legal, but somebody purchasing lotto tickets on the
mainland who then re-sells them on the islands would be guilty of Section
§712-1220(1) of the Hawaii Statutes, which criminalizes the advancement of
gambling activity:

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

The only other form of gambling in Hawaii that straddles the line of legality
is so-called “social gambling” – or the home games many of us grew up watching
our parents play. Whether it be bingo or bridge, sports-related contests like
“March Madness” brackets and Super Bowl squares or pub poker games which award
free pints to the winner, millions of Americans enjoy social gambling as part of
their daily lives.

That’s no different on the islands, but under Section §712-1231 of the Hawaii
Statutes, social gambling is subject to several restrictions. The law states
that social gambling is only considered to be legal when it satisfies all of the
conditions listed below:

“(1) Players compete on equal terms with each other;

(2) No player receives, or becomes entitled to receive, anything of value or
any profit, directly or indirectly, other than the player’s personal gambling
winnings;

(3) No other person, corporation, unincorporated association or entity
receives or becomes entitled to receive, anything of value or any profit,
directly or indirectly, from any source, including but not limited to permitting
the use of premises, supplying refreshments, food, drinks, service, lodging or
entertainment;

(4) It is not conducted or played in or at a hotel, motel, bar, nightclub,
cocktail lounge, restaurant, massage parlor, billiard parlor, or any business
establishment of any kind, public parks, public buildings, public beaches,
school grounds, churches or any other public area;

(5) None of the players is below the age of majority;

(6) The gambling activity is not bookmaking.”

This law immediately removes pub poker and similar pursuits from the
equation, as social gambling can’t take place in bars, nightclubs or
restaurants. The bingo nights used by churches all across the mainland for
fundraising are also out.

For all intents and purposes, then, Hawaiian law does ban social gambling –
because the letter of the law removes every element that gives gambling its
name.

Overall, you’d be hard-pressed to find a more strict set of gambling laws
elsewhere in America, which is interesting when Hawaii’s status as a personal
paradise is factored in. People flock to the islands from all corners of the
planet, looking to let loose and enjoy life untethered, but they arrive to find
one of the more repressive gambling regimes around.

Gambling Venues in Hawaii

Unfortunately, this section will be left short and sweet, as Hawaii is home
to exactly zero venues for legal gambling.

No casinos, race tracks, bingo halls, slot parlors or lottery distributors
can be found on the islands – at least legally speaking. There will always be
things such as underground games, as gamblers get their action in away from the
prying eyes of authorities – but we simply can’t recommend those.

For now, visitors to Hawaii must remain content with pristine beaches,
perpetual sunshine and endless ocean views – and compared to gamblers in
Vermont, that’s definitely not the worst deal in the world.

History of Gambling in Hawaii

1959

On August 21, less that two months after 94.3% of Hawaiian voters moved to accept Congress’ Hawaii Admission Act, the Union accepted it’s 50th state.

1972

The Hawaii Revised Statutes are ammended to include §712-1223, which defines gambling and criminalizes the activity and it’s advancement as misdemeanors.

2002

In October, the Honolulu Star Bulletin publishes a series of point/counterpoint editorials on the issue of gambling expansion, under the headline, “Legalized Gambling: Should Hawaii Chance ‘Em?”

2010

On February 26, the Hawaii Legislature votes to kill off House Bill 2251, which sought to license casino operators in the city of Honolulu and create a Gaming Control Board to regulate the casino industry. Despite public support for the measure, the Honolulu Police Department (HPD), Honolulu Prosecutor’s Office, and the state’s Attorney General all stated their vocal opposition.

2016

Special assistant to the state attorney general, Joshua Wisch, issues his opinion which clarifies the law on mainland lottery tickets. Hawaiians are therefore able to buy tickets from the mainland, and cash them in there after a win – but any profits are then subject to state taxes.

2017

State senator Will Espero (D-19) introduces SB-677, a bill seeking to legalize and regulate the online gambling industry across the islands. Like all previous attempts to expand gambling rights in Hawaii Espero’s bill was left to languish in legislative chambers without any further activity.

Hawaii Gambling FAQ

In our experience, diving into the minutiae of statewide gambling laws can
create as many questions as answers.

For every new revelation you stumble upon, there remains so much more to
learn – especially given the constant tweaks and tinkering that all laws
undergo. After our own research and review, we came up with three questions that
may be left lingering in the air, and the hope is to answer them with more
clarity below:

You said they’re legal under the social gaming exemption, but my surfer friend from college says he heard of some home games being raided near his place in Maui… so what’s the real story on home poker games in Hawaii?

Well, we weren’t lying when we said gambling activity like playing poker with
your pals from work is exempted by the social gambling exemption – but your
wave-riding pal is correct, too.

That’s just the way laws tend to work when so much is left open to
interpretation.

The case you’re likely referring to took place in August of 2012, when the
Vice/Gambling/Morals Unit of the Maui Police Department executed a raid in
Wailuku. The target was a home poker game where nine middle-aged Hawaiian men
convened to play small-stakes, No-Limit Hold’em.

The “ringleader” of the game, 35-year old Khanhnha Vanhtha of Wailuku, was
arrested, and he faced charges of promoting gambling in the second degree and
possession of a gambling device with bail set at $400. Eight players in the game
were also arrested and charged with suspicion of gambling with their bail set at
$200 each.

Shortly after the arrests were made public, the Maui Poker Association issued
a statement asserting that the poker game in question was legal, under the
Section §712-1231 social gambling exemption.

The pressure play appears to have worked, as authorities quickly dropped all
charges stemming from the incident due to “lack of evidence.”

If we had to guess, this case involved overly aggressive local police who
suspected that Vanhtha was running his home game for the purpose of profit. That
social gambling exemption is quite clear, and it precludes anybody from deriving
a profit in addition to their actual winnings (emphasis added):

“No player receives, or becomes entitled to receive, anything of value or any
profit, directly or indirectly, other than the player’s personal gambling
winnings.”

When somebody in Hawaii sets up a home poker game, or any form of social
gambling, they aren’t allowed to collect “rake,” or any other fees from players
in attendance.

Of course, they can always turn a flush to crack pocket aces – and collect
any winnings accumulated in the pot – but charging players to be there or
attaching a fee to their buy-in constitutes a violation.

Is the Hawaiian aversion to gambling a product of culture, like with the Puritanical influence in Vermont or Mormon Church’s influence in Utah, or is something else amiss?

As we’re not native to Hawaii, we can only speculate here, but it seems to be
a matter of timing more than anything else.

After all, the historical record shows that the Polynesian, Asian and other
native peoples who populated the islands prior to the colonial era enjoyed
wagering on games of skill and chance. In their case, horse races and cockfights
were the gambling venue of choice, but personal contests of strength between men
of valor were also fair game for bettors.

Between 1894 and 1898 the American government worked to overthrow the
Hawaiian royal family, ending their rule and beginning the arduous process of
illegal annexation. By the time Hawaii was officially granted statehood in 1959,
the American gambling landscape was a far cry from what we know today.

Nevada had only legalized casino gambling in 1931, and 28 years later, “Sin
City” was the only place in America where the former vice formed a viable
industry. Just think, New Jersey didn’t legalize its own casino industry in
Atlantic City until 1976 – a full 27 years after Hawaii entered the Union.

All of which is to say, when Hawaii was working to become the 50th state back
in the early 1950s, the idea of adding gambling legalization to any state
constitution was simply a nonstarter. Hawaiians at the time largely supported
the statehood movement, seeking to gain full representation within Congress and
a multitude of additional benefits – so aligning with America’s status quo was
the natural course to take.

The state constitution which was eventually ratified in 1959 included no
efforts to protect gambling rights for one simple reason – the concept of
gambling rights didn’t exist outside of Las Vegas.

Of course, it’s been nearly 60 years since the constitution was enacted, and
amendments have been added ever since, so we’re not sure why gambling expansion
hasn’t caught on in the interim. That may be a product of traditions taking root
faster than we’d expect, as today’s Hawaiians have largely grown up in a world
where gambling is nothing but an afterthought.

Significant progress has been made on the Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) front, so where does Hawaii stand on sites like DraftKings and FanDuel?

As is usually the case, with the rise of DFS challenging many long-held
notions about sports betting, technological progress and industry innovation
have moved the proverbial needle when it comes to online gambling.

Many states view DFS contests – in which players form “fantasy” teams made up
of athletes and compete for real money based on their team’s relative
performance – as gambling under another name. And yet, states like New York have
reassessed that view, deeming DFS to be a game of skill which deserves
protection from strict gambling laws.

In the case of Hawaii, the state’s Attorney General, Douglas Chin, issued his
own opinion on the matter in January of last year. In a statement outlining his
office’s official opinion on DFS, Chin was unequivocal in stating that DFS
constitutes illegal gambling:

“Hawaii is generally recognized to have some of the strictest anti-gambling
laws in the country.

Gambling generally occurs under Hawaii law when a person stakes or risks
something of value upon a game of chance or upon any future contingent event not
under the person’s control.

The technology may have changed, but the vice has not.

We conclude that daily fantasy sports contests constitute illegal gambling
under Hawaii law.”

This official opinion forced DFS operators like DraftKings and FanDuel to
restrict access to Hawaiian players, and nothing has changed since then. Players
on the islands can still use virtual private networks (VPNs) to disguise their
IP address and access the sites, but playing DFS legally isn’t possible under
Hawaiian law.

Attorney General Chin made it clear that enforcement of this law would target
operators, and not players, but using VPNs to get around the law is likely to
cross the line with local police and prosecutors.

Additional Resources

We’ve tried to bring readers up to speed on the state of gambling law in
Hawaii, but conducting your own outside research is always a helpful exercise.

In that spirit, the four links below should give you a good head start on
your own study of the subject, so click away and learn more about how gambling
is governed on the islands:

Chapter 712 of the Hawaii Revised Statutes covers “Offenses Against Public
Health and Morals,” and Section §712-1220 defines gambling and related offenses.

The Honolulu Star-Bulletin published a series of editorials in 2002,
asking if the time had come to legalize gambling on the islands. The
question remains unanswered, but often asked, as demonstrated by the 2016
editorial published by the Honolulu Civil Beat
calling for a state lottery
program to bail out an ailing economy.

The Poker Players Alliance (PPA) is the leading national lobby group working
on behalf of the American poker community. The PPA primarily focuses on aiding
online poker legislation put forth in various states, and the group provides
regular updates on bills like the one introduced by state senator Espero in
January.

The Future and Your Views

The movement to legalize and regulate gambling, online or otherwise, is
growing throughout Hawaii.

Bills like the one introduced this year by state senator Espero are becoming
commonplace, and while they’re still being shot down with consistency, the tide
appears to be turning.

Editorials published by the islands’ major newspapers openly wonder why
Hawaii isn’t benefitting from a state lottery system. Grassroots organizations
like the Maui Poker Association are lobbying on behalf of Hawaii’s poker
community, and as lawmakers readily admit, tens of thousands are already
participating in one form of online gambling or another despite the current
restrictions.

All things considered, the time for gambling reform in Hawaii may be fast
approaching, if it hasn’t already arrived.

Disclaimer

The gambling laws in any jurisdiction or region around the world are subject
to change. We’ve strived to ensure that the information on this page is
accurate, but you should always check your local laws before engaging in any
form of gambling activity.