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Hawaii Online Gambling Laws

In general, Hawaii is not considered to be gambling friendly. While there are no laws in Hawaii that specifically outlaw online gambling for Hawaii residents, there is also no law that specifically legalizes it. Hawaii's legal position on gambling is clear and simple - gambling is not legal in the state. Hawaii gambling law defines gambling as betting something of value on a contest of chance. A contest of chance refers to any game, contest, gaming device or gaming scheme, the result of which depends in a material degree on an element of chance, even if the skill of the contestants are a factor therein. Poker and casino games will be considered a contest of chance under Hawaii gambling law. It is a misdemeanor offense to engage in gambling. Knowingly participating or advancing a gambling activity can result in being charged with the offense of gambling. Advancing a gambling activity refers to conduct that which materially aids a gambling activity and includes

While state based gambling in Hawaii may not be a possibility, there are no state or federal laws which prohibit residents and visitors to Hawaii from participating in legally licensed and certified gambling sites which are located outside of the United States, within a region that has legalized online gambling. Many of these sites accept players from Hawaii and are often referred to as Hawaii online casinos, Hawaii online poker sites, and Hawaii online sports betting sites, despite the fact that they are not located in Hawaii. There are even Hawaii online bingo options available.

Social Gambling Laws in Hawaii

Social gambling including bingo, raffles, home poker games and specific types of wagers on sporting events are legal subject to strict conditions. A home poker game must meet the following conditions:

History of Gambling In Hawaii

In 1778 when Captain James Cook discovered the Hawaiian Islands, gambling was popular amongst the residents during the Makahiki festival from October to February. During the festival people could place bets on various games and contests. Even non-participant could place bets on the outcome of the contest. However the popularity of the festival declined over the years and in the 1800s, the American missionaries stopped betting on moral grounds. In August, 1825, the native chiefs met and placed a kapu (prohibition) upon gambling, vice, drunkenness, theft, and violation of the Sabbath.

Hawaii is one of the few states without any legalized gambling activities. Given Hawaii's reliance on a tourist economy, the citizenry of Hawaii probably realized that any legalized gambling activities would severely injure the pre-existing tourist economy. There are no land based casinos in the state of Hawaii. Hawaii does not have a state lottery.

Efforts To Legalize Gambling In Hawaii

Way back in 2010, the state considered a proposal to set up a stand alone casino in Waikiki but soon abandoned the idea. Legislators toyed with a similar idea about 11 years ago before rejecting it. In February 2010, the state House Finance Committee rejected a bill to allow casinos on Hawaiian home lands.

In early 2011, there were hopes that the state would legalize poker. A bill was introduced seeking to define poker as a game of skill. This would make it exempt from the state gambling law. In March 2011 the bill made it past the Judiciary Committee but did not get a House Fiance Committee hearing. The bill apparently lacked the necessary public support to continue further and died.

Efforts To Legalize Online Gambling In Hawaii

Earlier this year, a group of state Senators introduced a bill seeking to legalize internet poker, lotteries and other casino games. The bill if passed would create the Hawaii Internet Lottery and Gaming Corporation to oversee gambling operations in the state. The Corporation would have 180 days to create a regulatory framework to regulate internet gaming operations. The bill is still pending, but could lead to state based Hawaii online poker options and expand selection for players who now rely on legal offshore poker rooms.

Hawaii Gambling Laws Concerning Indian Tribal Lands

Many states that specifically prohibit land based casinos allow Indian tribes in the state to set up casinos on reservations under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act. But not Hawaii. The U.S. Supreme Court, in a 5–4 decision, held that the 11th Amendment bars Congress from authorizing suits by Indian tribes against states to enforce federal legislation that requires states to negotiate in good faith with Indian tribes toward tribal-state compacts governing gaming on Indian lands. Since only Utah and Hawaii prohibit all gambling without exception, only those states, under IGRA, could regulate gambling on tribal lands.

Federal Laws Affecting Hawaii Online Gambling

There are no federal laws which prohibit residents or visitors to Hawaii from participating in legally licensed online gambling. Some players mistakenly believe the UIGEA bill of 2006 makes it illegal for US residents to participate in online gambling, however this is not the case at all. The law in fact does not even address players but rather targets gambling site operators and payment processors to place regulatory oversight on how online gambling transactions are processed. This regulation keeps fraudulent and illegal financial practices out of the industry. In the recent 2011 Black Friday sting in which the DOJ launched an investigation into several prominent online poker sites, no players were investigated or targeted in the process. Those sites were suspected of not adhering to the regulations set forth in the UIGEA and hence were investigated accordingly. While players were inconvenienced for a time regarding access to their funds at these sites, no players were charged or punished in any way.

Hawaii Gambling Laws

For those interested in reviewing Hawaii gambling laws in their original legislative context, you will find that information here: Hawaii Government Official Website. That link will take you to the official documents themselves.

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