Hawaii Casinos and Gambling

If you are planning to visit Hawaii and want to play a few casino games, poker, or even pick up a lottery ticket, you need to play before you go. Hawaii is one of the few places in the United States where there isn’t any form of legal gambling.

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Hawaii Gambling Laws

Gambling of all forms is illegal in Hawaii. It’s a felony to promote any type of gambling or game of chance in Hawaii and it’s a misdemeanor to participate in any type of game of chance.

Any contest of chance, defined as any contest, game, scheme, or gaming device where the outcome depends on an element of chance is illegal.

Slot Machines and Table Games

Not only are slot machines illegal to play anywhere in Hawaii, it’s illegal to own one. You aren’t allowed to have one in your home or anywhere else for entertainment or any other purpose.

Some states allow you to own a slot machine if it’s collectable and/or antique. Usually, a machine has to be at least 25 years old to qualify in these states. Hawaii doesn’t allow antique slot machines either.

Other states that prohibit all slot machine ownership include Connecticut, Nebraska, South Carolina, and Tennessee.

Table games like blackjack and craps are also outlawed anywhere in Hawaii.

Hawaii Sports Betting

Any type of sports betting or wagering is illegal in Hawaii. You can probably find people to place a “friendly” wager with but in doing so you are technically breaking the law.

Though I haven’t been to Hawaii, I’m sure there are some office pools run for the NCAA basketball tournament just like in every other state and country around the world. But these also are illegal so be very careful before taking part, even if everyone else seems to be doing it.

Lottery in Hawaii

44 states have some sort of state lottery and many states participate in the Powerball and Mega Millions. Hawaii not only doesn’t participate in the Mega Millions or Powerball, they also don’t have a state lottery.

One of the main theories about why there isn’t a lottery in Hawaii is because of the complete ban on any type of wagering the state doesn’t feel there’s any competition. If people aren’t spending their money on other lotteries or forms of gambling the state doesn’t need to run a lottery to make sure they get their fair share of the profits.

Poker in Hawaii

You can’t legally participate in a poker game in Hawaii so there aren’t any legal poker rooms.

Home games are supposedly available, but unlike in some parts of the United States, these games are also illegal. While law enforcement usually has more important things to do than look to bust a home poker game, the law is clear. Playing poker, even in your own home, in Hawaii is illegal

Pari Mutuel Racing in Hawaii

Pari-Mutuel racing is usually associated with horse and/or dog racing. The difference between most forms of gambling and pari-mutuel racing is when you’re gambling in most games you play against the house. In a pari-mutuel event, all of the money wagered is collected, a small percentage is kept by the track, and the rest is paid out to the winning bettors.

Horse racing is the one gambling area where you may see a form of legalized gaming in Hawaii eventually. But don’t count on it happening any time soon.

Hawaii had horse racing until some time in the 1950’s and there’re thousands of horses on the islands.

In most years there’s at least one suggested law supporting horse racing introduced in the legislature. So far these proposals have been defeated so you still can’t legally wager on a dog or horse race in Hawaii.

Illegal Gambling in Hawaii

Anywhere something is illegal that people still want to do it creates an opportunity for a criminal element to fill the void.
The most well-known example of this was when the United States outlawed alcohol in the early 1900’s. It created a huge black market with millions of dollars in illegal transactions being conducted every week.

I don’t have firsthand knowledge of any illegal gambling operations in Hawaii, but I would lay excellent odds that gambling establishments exist. A percentage of any population wants to gamble on something and if they want to place bets there’re always people willing to take them for a profit.

Local bookies still operate illegally all across the United States so making the assumption that they don’t operate in Hawaii because of the laws seems short-sighted.

Poker exploded in popularity in the early 2000’s and continues to be both wildly popular and widely available, even in areas where it’s illegal. You can find underground poker rooms in just about any major U. S. city so once again, believing they don’t exist in Hawaii because of the law is short-sighted.

The final area where there surely are places to play is casino games. Games like blackjack, craps, and roulette can easily be offered in a wide range of places. You can run a blackjack game with nothing more than a deck of cards. Owning a roulette wheel or craps table is illegal in itself, but if you get caught with a deck of cards you can just say you enjoy solitaire.


Depending on your view of the gambling world as a whole you either think Hawaii is out of touch with reality or the perfect place to get away.

Hawaii would be one of the best places to move if you are addicted to gambling. Any place where you can’t even buy a lottery ticket is a place a gambling addict might be able to avoid temptation.

If you have ever visited Hawaii or spent much time talking to anyone who has lived there you know that some things and traditions are different than anywhere else in the United States. The views on gambling in any form in Hawaii are one of the things that stand in great contrast to most other states.