Online Poker and Hawaii’s Gambling Laws
2021 Update: Is Online Poker Legal in Hawaii Yet?
No, online poker isn’t legal in Hawaii and it probably won’t be anytime soon. Hawaii is one of only two states in the United States that doesn’t have any form of legal gambling at all. That means no casinos, tribal or commercial. There are no race tracks, no slot machines, no lottery and not even charitable gaming.
Hawaii is a beautiful place with stunning beaches, amazing wildlife and majestour volcanoes, but it’s not the place to go if you want to gamble. Hawaii doesn’t seem like it’ll expand gaming anytime soon. A plethora of states started legalizing sports betting in 2018 and it became a good indicator of which states were open to expanding their gambling laws.
Hawaii was not one of them. If that changes we’ll be the first to update you.
Poker and the Law in Hawaii
Hawaii has some pretty strict laws governing gambling. There are no horse or dog races allowed in the state and there’s no casino of any kind. The state does allow some forms of social gaming, but only under a strict set of rules. Hawaii’s laws are covered by the Hawaii State Statute. But no matter whether gambling laws are strict or completely permissive, they all must do one thing first: define what gambling actually is.
In Hawaii, this is covered under code section 712-1220. It defines gambling as:
“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.”
Here we see the state using a word that’s fairly common in gambling definitions, the word “chance.” This is important because poker was ruled to be a game of skill, not chance, by a federal judge in 2012. This paved the way for states to start coming up with their own online poker legislation.
But in Hawaii’s case we see an additional qualifier: uncontrollable future contingent. This is very ambiguous, and probably purposefully so, because we can never really be in control of the future. This is true for sporting events, life and especially poker. Therefore, poker fall strictly under the Hawaiian statutes.
Can I Play Online Poker on PokerStars in Hawaii?
There are a lot of amazing things you can do in Hawaii. You can go surfing on beautiful beaches, hike volcanoes and camp through nature, but you can’t play poker on PokerStars there. This doesn’t look like it’ll change anytime soon.
Ever since PokerStars and a number of other sites faced charges from the Department of Justice in 2011, only a pair of states have given PokerStars a license to operate in the United States. Currently, only players in New Jersey and Pennsylvania can play on PokerStars. These sites are state-segregated though, so their player pools are a lot smaller than what you’re probably used to.
Luckily, there are a few sites that have become pretty good PokerStars alternatives for players in Hawaii and across the US. Sites like BetOnline, Ignition Poker and Bovada accept players from all 50 states and have great bonuses and promotions, excellent rakeback programs and top-notch software. For a full review of these sites and more, just click below:
What can I Gamble on in Hawaii?
Nothing, it’s that simple. Gambling is very discouraged in Hawaii and it’s only one of two states in the United States, including Utah, that bans all forms of gambling. That means there’s no racing, no casinos, Indian or tribal, and not even a state lottery. There are some exceptions for social gaming, but it’s a very restrictive state otherwise.
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