Is Online Gambling Legal in Hawaii?
Hawaii’s anti-gambling stance is covered in the Revised Statutes §712-1220. They make it clear that any activity which “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” is completely illegal. Hawaii keeps excellent company with Utah, as the only other state that’s resolutely against any form of real money gambling - including the lottery.
But things might be about to turn a corner. For the first time, Hawaii might be coming around to regulating gambling, especially in light of sports betting. The reasoning is that people who want to gamble will find a way to do so anyway, so why not place a tax on it? Representative John Mizuno, a Democratic politician in Honolulu, is also the major force behind the proposed sports betting bill, reasoning that there’s no way to stop people betting on the Super Bowl or the college championship game, so Hawaii should take its tax cut.
All the bravado aside, online gambling, and indeed all land-based gambling, remains illegal in Hawaii. Any changes geared towards legalizing real money wagering will be slow and very carefully considered. And, since the motivation will be almost entirely financial, the tax implications are likely to be considerable.
Gambling History in Hawaii
In drastic contrast to the situation today, Hawaii has a rich gambling history that went relatively unchecked for many years. Islanders have a long history of gambling, dating back to the days of the Hawaiian kingdom. At the time, horse betting, cock fighting, and card rooms were prolific. The first recorded statutes on the subject of gambling date back to 1827.
Once the State of Hawaii was formed in 1959, all forms of gambling were made illegal. A push to formally legalize horse betting that same year was turned down flat by the house of representatives.
In the 80s there was a massive crackdown on gambling houses, most notably in 1986 when video game rooms (mainly comprised of slot machines) were raided in O‘ahu. It was cited that tens of millions of dollars were changing hands at these establishments.
In 2010, an attempt to set up a gambling committee to investigate the feasibility of casino gambling and a state lottery in Hawaii was also passed over. A similar attempt, this time focused on online poker, was tabled in 2012, but it met an identical fate.
Unlike many other states, which tend to turn a blind eye, Hawaii actively goes after people operating and participating in online gambling in the state. Today, many illegal gambling houses are in operation in Hawaii, preying on gamblers with unfair odds and conditions. These also attract more serious criminal activity. For this reason, an argument renewed in 2022 attempts to legalize gambling and render these establishments redundant. The party remains divided on the matter.
Legal Updates and Changes to Hawaii Online Gambling
If you’re hoping for a full-blown one-eighty on the subject of online gambling, then you’ll be sorely disappointed. However, there is some movement on the subject of sports betting since the US constitutional amendment of 2018 allows all states to introduce wagering of this kind should they wish to.
In the past, all proposed bills to legalize some form of gambling or another were cut off at the knees, but this time it looks like things might be different. The House Bill 1815 of 2022 is hoping to pass sports betting legislation in Hawaii. The bill itself isn’t expected to pass in its current form, and many rounds of amends will be applied should it avoid scrappage. That’s probably an extremely good thing because, as it currently stands, the bill attempts to impose a 55% tax on either consumers or operators, or both. As an example, should this levy fall onto players who win $100, they would only actually receive $45.
When Could Hawaii Legalize Sports Gambling?
If Hawaiians and other residents get really lucky, then sports betting could be a legal option in the next couple of years. We have to be really non-committal on the time frame because, even though a bill has been tabled, it’s in no way finalized, let alone accepted. But should the state concede and open the door to sports wagering, Hawaii will still be one of the least desirable jurisdictions from which to gamble.
Taxation on both operators is projected to be sky-high, forcing all winning players to fork over about 55% of their winnings to the state. That’s sure to take the shine off any epic win. But, as we said, the bill is not yet final, and should it be accepted we’re very hopeful that taxation will drop to a more reasonable figure.
Daily Fantasy Sports Betting in Hawaii
Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) are social contests where players can draft fantasy teams made up of real athletes while adhering to a financial cap. These teams will then perform directly in proportion to real live sports events where those athletes participate. It’s hugely popular across the US and many states have drafted bills regulating these games. In fact, the two major providers - DraftKings and FanDuel - are constantly expanding their presence in the US.
Despite this, in January 2016, the Attorney General of Hawaii cleared up any confusion on the legality of DFS by stating that all paid fantasy sports content constitutes gambling and is therefore not allowed.
Horse Betting in Hawaii
Before it became a state in 1959, there was a thriving horse betting scene in Hawaii. In fact, horse racing was a favorite pastime of the majority of residents when the Hawaiian Kingdom still existed. These declined over the 1940s and were stopped and made illegal by 1959. All efforts to legislate have met with no success since. All bills attempting to re-introduce horse betting to Hawaiian culture failed very early in the process.
As the years passed, it appears that interest in horse betting has waned and pro-gambling lobbyists are far more focused on wider sports betting and casinos, rather than race tracks and horse betting venues.
Expected Online Sportsbooks to Launch in Hawaii
Hawaiian government representatives who are tabling the ongoing bill proposing sports betting to be legalized in Hawaii have stated that the structure intended for Hawaii is heavily based on the New York model. In that case, should sports betting become legal in Hawaii, then both in-person and mobile betting would be allowed. The latter would be less likely only because there are no current physical venues that could quickly take on sports as a betting option.
New York also allows multiple online sportsbooks to operate within the state, including Caesars Sportsbook, BetMGM, FanDuel, DraftKings, PointsBet, and BetRivers. However, at this point in time, it’s an absolute guess as to how things would pan out for Hawaii.
What Sports Can I Bet On When Hawaii Legalizes Sports Gambling?
If you’re a great fan of speculation (and perhaps a dash of fantasy), you might be tempted to wonder what Hawaii would be like should sports gambling ever become legal. In reality, a fully operational and regulated sports betting market is a few years away, if at all, so there’s no real way to know exactly how that might look. If we assume that top-notch sportsbooks will be allowed to enter the market, then there’s no reason why Hawaii wouldn’t have access to the same sports as other states that embraced sports gambling.
Since the majority of sportsbooks like BetMGM are massive operations, there’s virtually no limit as to where to place your bets. From massive basketball, football and hockey events, to college sports and global sporting events, it’s all a few clicks away at all times. That being said, considering Hawaii’s ultra-conservative approach to gambling, it might be the first state to place limits and restrictions on which sports can be bet on and when. We’ll just have to wait and see as the legal bill progresses through the government.
Deposit and Withdrawal Methods on Hawaii Gambling and Social Sites
Just in case you haven’t got the memo, there’s no such thing as a legal online casino in Hawaii. The state comes down hard on any people who try to gamble anyway, and that includes access to sites online. The only way to get a casino experience is to find yourself a fantastic social casino or social poker site. We’ve made things easy by listing the safest and most exciting sites in this review.
Social casinos are built in pretty much the same way as online casinos, usually with several integrated payment methods used to fund your account. Once funded, you can purchase tokens or virtual coins that are used to access games, contests, tournaments, and special events. All reputable sites will accept one or more of the following:
- Debit and credit cards like Visa, Discover and MasterCard
- Online banking and bank transfers
- Prepaid cards for deposits only
- E-wallets like PayPal, Neteller or Skrill
- PayNearMe for those looking to deposit using cash
The fastest option is usually an e-wallet, as most of these will process deposits instantly and withdrawals within a matter of hours. Online banking and bank transfers are the slowest. Take care to always read the terms and conditions for each option you choose. Since many social casinos operate offshore, there might be currency conversion fees as well as general transaction fees.
Gambling and Casino Bonuses in Hawaii
If you’re looking for an online casino bonus in Hawaii, then you should consider moving to a different state. But if you can content yourself with bonuses offered by social casinos and sweepstakes and social poker sites, then you’ll find a huge range of options designed to boost your gameplay and rewards.
The most exciting of these is definitely the welcome offer for each site. These offers are usually extra generous gifts of coins or tokens (depending on what the site uses) that you can use to play games on-site, as well as gain access to contests and tournaments. Of course, these coins can be lost in the same way as cash at a regular casino, but if you perform well, they are multiplied and can generate rewards and prizes - and sometimes even real cash!
Once you’ve used up your welcome offer, there are always several other promotions on the go, like 50% extra free on coin purchases, and free entry into competitions that offer real cash prizes. Check out our list of recommended social casinos for the best bonuses!
Minimum Legal Age to Gamble in Hawaii
There isn’t any legal gambling within this state, but should anything ever be legalised we would anticipate the minimum age to be 18 or 21. Many other states permit 18-year-olds to purchase lottery tickets whilst the age of 21 is given for those wishing to enter a racetrack or casino.
Who Regulates Casinos in Hawaii?
Because there are currently no forms of gambling within the state there is no need for regulators. If Hawaii were ever to legalize gambling then a department would need to be established, possibly within the District of Hawaii with regulation falling on the District Attorney's office.
The Future of Gambling in Hawaii
Based on a review of recent political discussions and agendas, we can make a fair guess at how Hawaii’s gambling scene might change over the next few years. Of course, this is assuming the current proposals are passed into law.
It’s equally likely that the pending bills on the topic of gambling will be turned down, as they all have been in the past. There’s one particularly strong motivation for legalizing online gambling in Hawaii, and that’s the state’s financial gain. They currently rank 43rd out of all US states for economic prosperity, with tourism being the main source of income. Gambling would add to the coffers, particularly if offered in Waikiki, where many tourists visit.
Of course, the argument is divided, with the other side maintaining that there would be a danger of problem gambling amongst the locals who already have a propensity towards casinos and betting. On the other hand, should the state tax operators heavily, the financial gain should outweigh the possible negatives, and this is the main argument of the pro-gambling lobby. Either way, the next couple years will be pivotal for real money gambling in Hawaii - all we can do is wait and see.
Hawaii Gambling References