Hawaii Guide to Sports Betting
Gambling Laws in Hawaii are relatively strict, prohibiting wagering on horse-or-dog-races and gambling in casinos of any kind. Only Utah has gambling laws as strict as Hawaii and no sports betting, no casinos, no lottery, or online casinos exist.
In good news, gambling in Hawaii does on-the-other-hand allow for legal social poker home games as long as no-one profits (even from selling beverages-or-food).
Please view the table below for the legal positions on sports betting in Hawaii, online casino laws in Hawaii, gambling online etc.
|Gambling Type||Legal Land-Based||Legal Online|
|Fantasy Sports (DFS)||N/A||No|
Hawaii Gambling Tax Rate
Without legal gambling, Hawaii has no state rate on winnings.
Hawaii legal Gambling Age
Without legal gambling, Hawaii has no state legal gambling age.
Hawaii Sports Betting Laws
In May 2018, New Jersey won its case against the Federal Government’s ban on US Federal Sports Betting Laws. With its ground-breaking ruling, the Supreme Court struck down the Federal law to end the federal prohibition on sports betting laws and handed the decision-making on legal sports betting back to each state to decide for themselves.
As a result, Hawaii’s lawmakers have taken it upon themselves to the answer to the question ‘is sports betting legal in Hawaii?’ with a resounding ‘No thank you’.
Anything that remotely resembles gambling is outlawed, as evidenced by Hawaii’s lack of legal casinos and its prohibition on daily fantasy sports (DFS) sites.
Sports Betting in Hawaii
Hawaiian Sports betting along with many other types of betting is prohibited by the Island State’s Government and it is quite unlikely that will change soon.
The closest that Hawaii has come to legalizing sports betting was a bill (HB927) introduced to the State Legislature in 2017 looking to set up a commission with the aim with of analyzing the financial and social aspects of all forms of gambling, including fully-legalized-sports-betting.
The bill failed to gain any significant support, outlining the position that Hawaii simply has no taste for expanding gambling of any type at the current time. However, on the other hand, that this bill was actually drafted and introduced to the House shows the winds of change are blowing through the Aloha State, and at least one lawmaker is open to considering the issue.
Many State Legislators have suggested more recently following the lifting of the Federal Government prohibition on sports betting, that interest in legal sports betting may now increase and grow. Expect to see more legalization bills introduced by Hawaii’s lawmakers in the future.
As the changes continue, we will advise you of changes in the Hawaiian position towards sports betting while other states begin their respective legalization processes.
Sports Betting Online
In Hawaii, Online Sports Betting is currently prohibited.
However, some Hawaiian lawmakers have shown interest in filling the state’s tax revenue coffers and reclaiming the tax revenue that they know is by-passing the Hawaiian State Tax System and going directly to the bottom line of offshore casinos online.
In 2013 and 2017 respectively, Hawaii’s lawmakers attempted to establish the “Hawaii Internet Lottery and Gaming Corporation” specifically designed to conduct, regulate and license online gambling within the state and thereby bring in millions of dollars of much-needed additional state tax revenue.
We expect a third attempt at the legalization process of online sports betting and gambling online in Hawaii in general sometime soon.
Casinos in Hawaii
As for casinos, there is not a single land-based casino in the island state of Hawaii, nor is gambling on cruise ships out of Hawaii legal either for the time being.
Hawaii Land-based Casino Laws
Other than certain forms of “social gambling” in which the house takes no profit either directly or indirectly through fees, food sales, entertainment charges, etc., to operate an illegal casino comes with strict laws and state enforcements.
It is worthwhile-to-note that in Hawaii, it is also considered a crime to participate in casino gambling as a player. Section §712-1223 of the Hawaiian State Statute considers it a misdemeanor offense for a person to knowingly participate in any casino gambling activity. Possible punitive punishment for a casino gambling misdemeanor in the state of Hawaii is up to a maximum of 1 year in jail and fines to a maximum of $2000.
Online Casino Laws in Hawaii
Online betting is also illegal in the Aloha State. It is illegal for ‘anyone to accept or place wagers or host poker or other casino games over the internet for residents.’
All potential online players in the state of Hawaii should acknowledge that online gambling is against state law and as such, avoid playing both U.S. based online casinos and off-shore online casinos whilst in the island state of Hawaii.
Please section above on ‘Sports Betting Online’ for attempts by Hawaiian lawmakers to legalize the online casino industry for the state’s many tourist visitors and its residents.
Horse Racing Betting in Hawaii
Residents of, and visitors to the state of Hawaii are not offered any legal horse racing betting options.
Hawaii’s lawmakers have in the past attempted to revive Hawaii’s long and proud history of legal horse racing (The Kapioloani Park Racetrack operated from 1883-1914, the Oahu Jockey Club in1939 and the Kailua Race track from 1939-1949).
In 1999, SB-476 was introduced to Hawaii’s State Legislature to rally for the legalization of Horse Racing and was followed up in 2000 by SB 2335 looking to run a five-year-pilot-plan allowing horse racing betting on an experimental basis. However, all attempts to pass the pieces of legislation stalled in the Hawaiian House.
Track Side: There are no Horse Racing tracks in the State of Hawaii.
Off-Track Betting (OTB): OTB facilities do not exist in the State of Hawaii.
Online Betting on Horse Racing in Hawaii: Neither Hawaii’s visitors to the Aloha State, nor the state’s residents have access to Online Betting on Horse Racing. See section above on ‘Sports Betting Online’ for further details on the state’s position to online gambling.
Hawaii’s Daily Fantasy Sports Laws
Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) are not bound by any Federal gambling bans, as at the Federal level of government, DFS is not considered to be gambling; it is not a game determined by random chance, it is widely thought of as a game of skill.
However, for the time being at least, Hawaii’s State Legislators do not agree and they have considered DFS competitions to be illegal in Hawaii. In 2016, the state’s lawmakers released an opinion that DFS sites violate state gambling laws and issued cease-and-desist orders to the major fantasy sites operating at that time.
Proving little is permanent in U.S. State Governments, in 2017, a DFS re-legalization bill (Bill SB 204) was introduced to the Hawaiian Senate in order to monitor and regulate on legal DFS competitions in the state. The bill is currently under consideration.
For the time being, until a new law passes to regulate DFS sites in Hawaii, all the major DFS companies are unable to legally accept players from Hawaii to participate in their real money DFS competitions.
What is DFS Exactly?
Immediately upon entering a DFS competition, it is possible to see that this version of sports betting differs greatly from a traditional win/loss or points spread wager. In your DFS league, a virtual salary cap is allotted for your team which you use to ‘buy’ players for your DFS team.
Sports stars in each league are priced according to a market value based on their real-world performances and career statistics. For example, if you wish to draft the best point guard or power forward in the NBA into your NBA DFS Team, you’ll be required to blow a large amount of your team’s salary cap on one single star player. More consistently performing bargain players who don’t command such high ‘buy-in’ prices are the favourites of the best DFS contestants.
As the games play out, your team’s real-life players amass stats (goals, assists, stolen bases, strikeouts, touchdowns, yards gained, receptions, etc.) in the real games and ultimately, your DFS team accumulates virtual points online based on the player’s actual performances. The team accumulating the most points, wins the DFS league whether it be daily, weekly, or sometimes even a regular season-long competition. Most DFS competitions offer a $1 million or more winner’s purse for each competition (NHL, NFL, MLB, NBA and college football in states where amateur sports are considered legal for DFS competitions) and big money can be won regularly.
Poker Laws in Hawaii
Live Poker can’t be enjoyed legally in Hawaii for the purposes of gambling, however, Hawaii’s residents and visitors can take part in social ‘home’ poker games as long as no-one is making a financial benefit (by gambling, charging entrance fees, or selling drinks and food) by hosting the games.
Online Poker Laws in Hawaii
Online Poker is a still unavailable for Hawaii’s online players at this time. For an in-depth explanation on the legal status of all online gambling in Hawaii, please refer to the above section on ‘Sports Betting Online’.
eSports Betting in Hawaii
Once the matter of legal sports betting has been realized as legal by Hawaii’s conservative State Legislature, eSports betting will then assist players in the Aloha State to win in revolutionary new betting games and the State Government to create an additional new and much-needed revenue stream.
What are ‘eSports’?
With a definition of ‘video game play at its highest professional level’, eSports continues to evolve and has given rise to competitive gaming betting and gambling.
Whilst eSports has now become a full-fledged industry (an official network of professional gaming tournaments and leagues playing games like Overwatch, Starcraft and Fortnite) eSports can trace its ancestral roots back to groups of close friends hosting LAN parties and taking part in video game ‘all-niters’.
Now, with the annual eSports market about to cross the $1 billion per annum thresh-hold, the industry shows no signs of slowing down. Crowds fill large outdoor stadiums and the prizes get richer with each passing tournament.
Naturally, sports-bettors will always follow where-and-when there is big money to be made. An ever-increasing number of sportsbooks worldwide offer international betting markets across all the major global eSports tournaments.
Rather than creating an underground illegal betting market, legal betting on eSports could possibly assist Hawaiian State Legislators through the sports betting legalization process by potentially adding millions to the state’s tax revenues.
Benefits of Legal Gambling to Hawaii
- With no revenue streams available from legalized gambling, Hawaii’s State Government could do well to legalize the practice.
- Further State Government Revenue (as a value-added attraction to Hawaii’s millions of annual tourist visitors) could be generated by the state’s tourism sector with legalized gambling.
- Legalized gambling could be an excellent and viable source of additional Hawaiian State Government income and provide the Island State with vast revenue streams to pay for positive education outcomes, improvements in the state’s health system, and better security and law-and-order services for the state’s residents of Hawaii.
History of Gambling in Hawaii
1883-1914; Horse Racing at Kapioloania Park Racetrack.
1939; Horse Racing at Oahu Jockey Club.
1939-1949; Horse Racing at Kailua Racetrack.
1959; Legal attempts to revive Horse Racing fail.
2011; Poker rejected as a Game of Skill in Hawaii.
2013; Online Casino and Lottery introduction bill fails to pass State Legislature (SB 768)
2016; DFS outlawed in Hawaii, as considered ‘gambling’ by the state’s legislators.
2017; Online Casino and Lottery introduction bill fails to pass State Legislature (Senate Bill 677)
2017; DFS re-legalization bill (Bill SB 204) was introduced to the Hawaiian Senate. Debate is on-going.