Hawaii Casinos – Best Places to Gamble in HI

In Hawaii, engaging in an act of gambling involves risking something of value with the hope of receiving something of value based on the outcome of a chance event or a future contingent event that is not under the control of the participant.  The only way to gamble is to join an offshore online casino.

Despite not explicitly prohibiting online play, the prohibition of gambling activities in Hawaii is extensive and encompasses all forms of internet gambling, including pay-to-play Daily Fantasy Sports contests.

Participation in gambling activities is regarded as a misdemeanor, and individuals who knowingly take part in such activities can face up to a year in jail and a fine of $2,000 if caught, as specified in the Hawaii Revised Statutes 706-640 and 706-663. 

Even though the law includes a provision for social gambling, online players cannot benefit from it. This affirmative defense requires that only participants in the game may stand to gain, implying that no form of compensation can be involved.

All laws that pertain to gambling in Hawaii are detailed in the Hawaii Revised Statutes 712-1220 et seq.

Related reading: Hawaii online casinos

Hawaii Gambling Revenues: A Look at the States Limited Options

Hawaii is one of only two states in the United States that does not allow any form of commercial gambling, including casinos, horse racing, and sports betting. As a result, the state does not generate any revenue from gambling.

However, there is one form of gambling that is legal in Hawaii: social gambling. This includes private poker games and other similar activities that are not conducted for profit. While there are no official numbers on how much revenue is generated from social gambling in Hawaii, it is likely a small amount compared to the potential revenue that could be generated from commercial gambling.

Despite the lack of gambling revenue in Hawaii, the state does have other sources of revenue. Tourism is a major industry in Hawaii, with the state attracting over 10 million visitors in 2019 alone. The tourism industry generates billions of dollars in revenue for the state each year, with much of that revenue going towards education, healthcare, and infrastructure.

In addition to tourism, Hawaii also has a state lottery. However, the lottery is limited in scope, with only scratch-off tickets and a limited number of drawing games available. In 2020, the Hawaii Lottery generated approximately $39 million in revenue, with most of that revenue going towards education and other state programs.

Indian Gaming Tribes in Hawaii

Unlike many other states in the United States, Hawaii does not have any federally recognized Indian tribes. Therefore, there are no Indian gaming tribes operating in the state.

However, there is a history of Native Hawaiians seeking federal recognition as a tribe. In 2016, a group of Native Hawaiians submitted a proposal for federal recognition to the Department of the Interior. However, the proposal was ultimately rejected in 2020 due to concerns about the group’s eligibility for recognition as a tribe.

Despite the lack of Indian gaming tribes in Hawaii, there have been efforts to establish casinos in the state. In 2012, a proposal to build a casino in Kapolei, Oahu, was introduced, but it ultimately failed to gain enough support to move forward. In 2017, another proposal was introduced to allow a Native Hawaiian group to build a casino on Hawaiian Home Lands, but that proposal also failed to pass.

A History of Gambling in Hawaii

You might be surprised to learn that gambling has a long and colorful history in Hawaii. The earliest form of gambling in the islands dates back to ancient times, when Hawaiians would engage in games of chance and skill as part of their cultural practices. Traditional games like ‘konane’ and ‘ulu maika’ involved throwing stones or wooden disks, and betting on the outcome.

In the early 1800s, Western contact with Hawaii brought new forms of gambling to the islands. Card games, dice, and horse racing became popular among the Hawaiian monarchy and the foreign community. However, as Christian missionaries arrived in Hawaii, they began to denounce gambling as a vice and a threat to the morals of the people.

In 1890, the Hawaiian Kingdom passed a law that banned all forms of gambling. This included horse racing, card games, and other forms of betting. However, the law was not well enforced, and gambling continued to be a part of daily life for many Hawaiians. Even the monarchy, including Queen Liliuokalani, was known to enjoy gambling.

During World War II, Hawaii became a hub for military personnel from around the world. With them came new forms of gambling, including slot machines and sports betting. The US military tolerated gambling among its troops, and the practice became ingrained in the culture of the islands.

In the 1950s and 1960s, Hawaii experienced a tourism boom. The state government began to promote Hawaii as a destination for visitors, and with it came a new interest in gambling. However, the state’s anti-gambling laws remained in place, and efforts to legalize gambling were met with opposition from religious and civic groups.

In the 1990s, the rise of online gambling posed a new challenge for Hawaii. While the state’s laws had not been updated to address internet gambling, the government continued to enforce its ban on all forms of gambling. Today, the only legal forms of gambling in Hawaii are social gambling among friends and family, and the state-run lottery.

Despite the state’s strict stance on gambling, many Hawaiians continue to gamble illegally, often through offshore websites or underground games. The allure of the potential payoff, combined with a long tradition of gambling in Hawaiian culture, has made it difficult to completely stamp out the practice.

Understanding Gambling Taxes in Hawaii

If you are a resident of Hawaii who engages in gambling activities, you may be wondering about the taxes you are required to pay. In Hawaii, all gambling winnings are subject to both state and federal taxes. This includes winnings from lottery tickets, casino games, and sports betting.

For federal taxes, all gambling winnings are considered taxable income and must be reported on your tax return. For example, if you win $1,000 at a casino, you must report that amount as income on your federal tax return. The tax rate for gambling winnings varies depending on your overall income, but it can range from 10% to 37%.

In addition to federal taxes, Hawaii residents must also pay state taxes on their gambling winnings. The state tax rate for gambling winnings is 11%, which is applied to all gambling winnings over $600. So, if you win $1,000 at a casino, you must pay $110 in state taxes.

It is important to note that even if you do not receive a W-2G form from the casino or other gambling establishment, you are still required to report your winnings and pay taxes on them. Failure to do so can result in penalties and interest on the unpaid taxes.

If you have gambling losses that exceed your winnings, you may be able to deduct those losses on your federal tax return. However, this deduction is only available if you itemize your deductions, and the amount of losses you can deduct is limited to the amount of your winnings.

To pay taxes on your gambling winnings, you can either make estimated tax payments throughout the year or pay the full amount when you file your tax return. If you make estimated payments, you will need to file Form 1040-ES and pay the taxes quarterly. If you prefer to pay the full amount when you file your tax return, you will need to use Form 1040 and include all of your gambling winnings and losses.

It is worth noting that if you win a large amount of money, such as a jackpot at a casino, the establishment may be required to withhold a portion of your winnings for taxes. This amount is usually 25% for federal taxes and 4% for state taxes. If this occurs, you will receive a W-2G form from the establishment that shows the amount of taxes withheld.

Hawaii Gambling FAQ

How much can you win at Hawaii casinos before being taxed?

As there are no commercial casinos in Hawaii, there is no limit on the amount you can win before being taxed. However, it is important to note that social gambling, such as private poker games, is legal in Hawaii but is not regulated by the state. Any winnings from social gambling should be reported as income on your federal tax return.

How to ban yourself from casinos in Hawaii?

Since there are no commercial casinos in Hawaii, there is no formal self-exclusion program in the state. However, if you are concerned about problem gambling, you can reach out to the Hawaii Council on Problem Gambling for resources and support. Additionally, you can take steps to prevent access to online gambling sites and seek help from a professional if you feel that you have a gambling addiction.

Who regulates gambling in Hawaii?

As commercial gambling is not legal in Hawaii, there is no state regulatory agency overseeing gambling in the state. However, the Hawaii State Legislature has introduced bills in the past to legalize gambling, and the Department of the Attorney General has provided opinions on the legality of certain types of gambling.

What is the minimum gambling age in Hawaii?

Since there are no commercial casinos in Hawaii, there is no minimum gambling age for casinos in the state. However, the legal gambling age for social gambling, such as private poker games, is 21 years old. It is important to note that while social gambling is legal in Hawaii, it is not regulated by the state, and any winnings from social gambling should be reported as income on your federal tax return.