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Hawaii Gambling Laws

State laws can vary quite a bit with respect to gambling, as some states allow gambling on Indian reservations while others ban the practice altogether. Hawaiian gambling laws are relatively strict, as they prohibit wagering on horse or dog races and gambling aboard ships or in casinos of any kind. In fact, the only kind of gambling permitted in the Aloha States is social gambling, but only if it is not committed in a hotel, motel, bar, nightclub, or any business establishment or public place.

The following table summarizes key points of the law while the article below provides a closer look at the basics of gambling laws in Hawaii.

Code Section 712-1220 et seq.
Gambling 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.
Horse Racing/Off-Track Betting -
Dog Racing/Off-Track Betting -
Casinos Allowed? Gambling aboard ships illegal. Possession of gambling devices, e.g. slot machines, illegal.
Other Kinds of Gambling-Related Activities Allowed or Banned Possession of gambling records, promoting gambling, bookmaking, illegal. Social gambling permitted as long as not committed in a hotel, motel, bar, nightclub, or any business establishment or public place. Must be of majority age.

Prohibited Forms of Gambling

Hawaii's gambling laws expressly prohibit casinos or gambling aboard ships off the coast of Hawaii. Just because something is not expressly prohibited by this law does not mean that it is allowed. A local attorney will be able to help you determine whether an activity is permitted or not.

No Hawaii State Lottery

Hawaii is among a handful of states that doesn't permit lottery tickets to be sold. Lotteries spread nationwide in part because state legislators argued that businesses near the borders were losing sales to out-of-state competitors who could offer tickets.

Of course, in states like Hawaii and Alaska, the geographic competition argument doesn't carry much weight. That's why neither of them sells lottery tickets.  

Hawaii Gaming Law and Criminal Gambling Charges

Illegal gambling is a criminal offense, and can result in jail time. The punishment for participating in illegal gambling may change with the type of gambling or amount wagered, and can be especially severe if you are holding games or lotteries for personal profit. Certain activities may constitute gambling that are not listed here.

If you would like to know more about gambling laws, there are many attorneys in Hawaii with gaming law experience who may be able to help. They will be able to help advice on the legality of private card games and raffles. It may also be helpful to speak with a private criminal defense attorney in your area if you have been accused of illegal gambling.

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