Hawaii Sports Betting
The state of Hawaii is one of two states with absolutely no gambling at all, which obviously includes sports betting. Hawaii sports betting remains illegal, as does all other forms of gambling.
That doesn’t mean lawmakers in Hawaii have not considered sports betting, though. 2019, 2020, 2021 and 2022 saw attempts to at least explore the legalization of sports betting, and a new bill was introduced during the 2023 legislative session. No attempt has received much support so far.
When will online sports betting launch in Hawaii?
It’s unclear when any form of sports betting will be legalized in Hawaii. But it would seem natural that online sports betting be a part of any enabling bill.
Since Hawaii has no gambling at all, it would be difficult to create a retail sports betting environment. It wouldn’t be as simple as adding sports betting to the lottery, like some states without other forms of gambling could do.
Hawaii could benefit the most from a system like sports betting in Tennessee, which is online-only and doesn’t require any relationship to a land-based entity.
However, lawmakers introduced a bill during the 2023 legislative session that would legalize sports betting and poker while bringing a standalone sportsbook and card room to Oahu.
Legal betting options in Hawaii
There are no legal betting options in Hawaii.
There are websites that suggest they can accept bets from anywhere in the United States, but these offshore sportsbooks are operating without a license, and therefore won’t always have the highest integrity.
That means these operators can choose to not pay out winning bets and can even shut down operations without paying out winnings. And, since the operations are not licensed in the United States, there are no consumer protections to help recover those funds.
Potentially popular sports to bet on in Hawaii
Hawaii has no professional sports teams, but it does have a beloved football program.
The University of Hawaii Rainbow Warriors is the state’s only Division I FBS college football program. The team has made a few appearances in the Hawai’i Bowl over the past decade, and recently deafeated the University of Houston in the 2020 New Mexico Bowl.
The Rainbow Warriors also have a beloved men’s basketball team, but success has been harder to come by. The team made the Round of 32 in the 2016 NCAA basketball tournament after finishing first in the Big West Conference. The last NCAA tournament appearance before that was in 2002.
Hawaii and daily fantasy sports
Hawaiians looking for sports entertainment unfortunately cannot turn to daily fantasy sports, either.
Hawaii is one of the few states that specifically outlaws daily fantasy sports contests.
Former state Attorney General Doug Chin ruled daily fantasy sports are technically illegal gambling under Hawaii’s laws.
“Gambling generally occurs under Hawaii law when a person stakes or risks something of value upon a game of chance or upon any future contingent event not under the person’s control,” said Chin. “The technology may have changed, but the vice has not.”
Therefore, daily fantasy sports contests have been illegal in the state since January 2016.
Is horse racing legal in Hawaii?
Unsurprisingly, horse racing is also illegal in Hawaii.
And due to Hawaii’s tough gambling laws, advance deposit wagering sites are also not available in the state. That means simulcast betting on your computer or phone through operations like BetAmerica, TVG and TwinSpires is not allowed.
Hawaii sports betting timeline
Jan. 9, 2023: State Rep. John Mizuno introduced another bill to make sports betting and poker legal on Oahu. Unlike previous bills, this attempt would create a standalone sportsbook and card room.
Jan. 26, 2022: HB 1973 is brought forth in another attempt to legalize sports betting, this time specifying that “sports wagering shall not be considered games of chance or gambling.” It does not gain much support.
Jan. 26, 2022: Another bill (HB 1962) is introduced, this time in an attempt to legalize casino gambling. It fails along with the others.
Jan. 24, 2022: A sports betting bill, HB 1815, is brought to the House legislature. The bill would administer and regulate online sports betting in the state, but it quickly dies.
Jan. 22, 2021: SB 595 is introduced in an effort to create a sports gambling task force that would “examine the economic feasibility of implementing sports gaming in Hawaii.”
The bill dies at the committee level.
2020: SB 2571 and HB 1107, carried over from 2019, both died in their respective committees.
SB 2571 would have established a task force to examine how much money sports betting could bring to the state of Hawaii.
HB 1107 would have created the Hawaii Sports Wagering Corporation, which would have regulated and operated sports betting in the state. The process would have included a request for proposal, allowing companies to submit bids to operate sports betting in the state.
FAQ on Hawaii sports betting
Is sports betting legal in Hawaii?
No, sports betting is not currently legal in Hawaii. There have been attempts to legalize, but there has been little support.
Where can I bet on sports in Hawaii?
Right now, there are no legal options to bet on sports in Hawaii. Any site purporting to offer sports betting is doing so illegally.
Can I bet on sports on my phone in Hawaii?
Since sports betting is not legal in Hawaii, there are no legal options to bet with your phone in the state.
There are websites that claim they can accept bets from anywhere in the United States. These are considered offshore sportsbook operators since they are not licensed to operate in any individual state. All gambling laws and licenses are decided at the state or jurisdiction level.
This means anyone that chooses to bet with these websites have no consumer protections. For instance, an offshore sportsbook operator could choose to not pay out a winning bet or close their website without refunding customer accounts and not be held liable under US law.