Hawaii has wonderful weather, spectacular sightseeing and bountiful beaches. But one thing Hawaii does not have is legal gambling. That means no sports betting, either, although Hawaii lawmakers have explored the possibility.
Alas, recent efforts to introduce legal sports betting in Hawaii have not met with much enthusiasm. That said, it remains possible Hawaii could introduce sports betting in the future.
If it did, it is likely online sports betting in Hawaii would be an option, perhaps even the only option, as it is in Tennessee. That’s because without any other forms of gambling on the islands, the lack of established retail locations could encourage lawmakers to explore the mobile option for sports betting.
Here is an overview of Hawaii sports betting (or the lack thereof) and the prospects for sports betting eventually finding its way to the Aloha State.
No. Along with all other forms of gambling, sports betting (and online sportsbooks) are prohibited in Hawaii.
It is safe to assume state lawmakers will discuss sports betting going forward. However, there is no great push at present to pass such legislation.
Given the time required to finalize rules, issue licenses, and complete other administrative necessities, even if sports betting were to be legalized quickly, it likely could not go live until 2022 at the earliest.
In truth, that would be a very optimistic timeline. In fact, recent legislation has included a proposal to create a task force to study sports betting before moving ahead to legalize it. That would add another year at least to the process of sports betting becoming legal in Hawaii.
No. There are no legal online sportsbooks in Hawaii. As mentioned above, the situation somewhat resembles Tennessee, a state without any casinos that now has legal sports betting. In Tennessee, lawmakers opted to make sports betting an entirely online endeavor. The same might be a possibility in Hawaii should the state entertain legalizing sports betting.
No. Daily fantasy sports (DFS) contests are expressly illegal to play in Hawaii. In keeping with the state’s militant enforcement of its anti-gaming ethos, Hawaii has issued an opinion from the state attorney general declaring DFS to be gambling and, thus, illegal under state law. In fact, State Rep. Scott Nishimoto attempted to go even farther than the opinion in 2017 when he proposed HB855, which would have placed the ban into the language of the law. Although the bill died in committee, the AG’s opinion is more than sufficient to keep the likes of DraftKings and FanDuel out of the Aloha State.
However, there is a bit of hope on the horizon. HB850 seeks to exempt DFS from the state’s gambling laws and regulate it. Although it is pinballing around the state house at the moment, it is still alive, at least. So, stay tuned.
Given that there are no casinos or other venues in the state offering legal betting of any kind, it is hard to say where exactly retail sportsbooks could find a home in Hawaii.
None at present. As noted above, all forms of gambling are illegal in the state, including sports betting and daily fantasy sports.
You might see offshore sportsbooks that operate online claiming to be “legal” in Hawaii. These sites are not licensed either in Hawaii or the United States. Thus those who place wagers on them have no recourse should the site fail to pay out winnings or close accounts and make off with bettors’ funds.
If you’re looking for silver linings, here is one. Hawaii has no sports betting, but it doesn’t have any professional sports franchises either on which fans might want to place wagers.
The state has one football team competing at the NCAA Division I FBS level, the University of Hawaii Rainbow Warriors.
The school also has an NCAA Division I men’s basketball team. The schools’ women’s teams are the Rainbow Wāhine.
Not only are there no racetracks in Hawaii, you cannot go online and bet on horse racing, either. That’s against the law, too. Therefore, advance wagering deposit sites such as BetAmerica, TVG, and TwinSpires cannot serve Hawaii bettors.
There is no legal sports betting in Hawaii. When it comes to “social gambling,” those who participate must be at least 18 years old (the “age of majority” in Hawaii).
The House bill introduced in 2020 that would have legalized sports betting proposed creating a regulatory body called the Hawaii Sports Wagering Corp. That bill failed, but presumably, if sports betting became legal, the state would install a similar group to oversee it.
Along with Utah, Hawaii is one of two states in the US with absolutely no legal gambling. So to understand the current state of sports betting in Hawaii, one must recognize that gambling was never legal on the islands. In 1972 a statute was added to state law that specifically criminalized gambling in Hawaii.
There are no casinos, no sportsbooks, no poker rooms, no racetracks and no state lottery in Hawaii. You cannot gamble on cruise ships parked on coasts around the islands. There is no tribal gambling, either.
In fact, Hawaii specifically outlaws daily fantasy sports, too. Some forms of “social gambling” are allowed in Hawaii. That essentially means small “home games” that cannot take place at commercial establishments and where the games are fair to all and no one takes a fee.
In 2018, a ruling by the US Supreme Court did away with the federal prohibition against sports betting, opening the door for each state to decide on sports betting for itself. A few enterprising lawmakers saw an opportunity for Hawaii, and proposed two different bills in subsequent legislative sessions.
One of the bills, SB2571, would create a task force “to examine and make recommendations on the economic feasibility of implementing sports gambling in Hawaii.” The bill had multiple sponsors and was referred to multiple committees, but proceeded no further.
The other bill, HB1107, proposed creating a regulatory body called the Hawaii Sports Wagering Corp. The bill would authorize the corporation to “offer a regulated, secure and responsible framework for the conduct of sports wagering in Hawaii.” HB1107 would also revise existing statutes to legalize sports betting and charge the regulating body to create rules, issue licenses and ensure the integrity of the new US sports betting market.
Unfortunately, though both bills enjoyed bipartisan support from multiple sponsors, neither proposed law gained any significant traction. Both of them never made it past the initial stages of the process and died in committee. Even more unfortunately, a more recent effort met with a similar fate in 2021.
HB736 sought to create a pilot program for digital (online) sports betting in the state. The proposition even bore an expiration date, meaning that sports betting was not meant to be anything more than a test, and lawmakers would have a chance to reassess once it was complete. The bill was so compelling that it took all of two-and-a-half weeks for it to be deferred indefinitely by the House Committee on Economic Development. Effectively, the bill is now dead in the water.
Currently, the only bill still fighting for life in the Hawaii legislature is SB595. Much like SB2571, it seeks to create a task force to study sports betting’s feasibility for the Aloha State. So far, it hasn’t moved very much, but it hasn’t been deferred or killed yet, either.