Can You Play Online Poker in Hawaii?
No. You cannot play online poker legally in Hawaii. The state has not legalized any form of gambling, which means both online and land-based casinos are not allowed to operate legally. In fact, Hawaii has one of the strictest gambling laws, and that is not likely to change any time soon. Consequently, there are no commercial or tribal casinos operating in the city.
Why Not? What Are the Online Poker Laws in Hawaii?
Hawaii is one of the few American states where the law explicitly prohibits online poker and other forms of gambling. Section 712-1223 of the Hawaiian Penal Code strictly prohibits wagering or gambling for money under any circumstances. Consequently, Hawaiians cannot play poker legally, both online and offline.
Despite changing online gambling laws in other parts of the country, the laws prohibiting Hawaii online poker will likely not change in the near future. This is due to the potential impact of legalizing gambling on the state’s thriving tourism business.
Nevertheless, poker enthusiasts in Hawaii who want to engage in online poker are able to play on offshore poker sites. These sites are located outside the country, unregulated by the state’s authorities, but are still accessible to residents.
Many offshore poker sites, such as Ignition and ACR poker, offer gaming opportunities to residents in Hawaii. Since both federal and state laws are not enforced against people who engage in online poker on offshore sites, it is unlikely that an individual will get in legal trouble. That doesn’t mean there aren’t risks, though.
We must emphasize that gambling on offshore sites isn’t strongly recommended. MyPokerCoaching does not recommend playing poker on these sites because they are not under the jurisdiction of US authorities, which means there’s no guarantee of the safety of your money and personal information. The unregulated nature of these offshore sites also means there’s no guarantee of a fair game when you register to play, which makes them unsafe for Hawaii players.
Potential Hawaii Poker Sites to Launch in the Future
Poker has been popular in Hawaii for many years, but the state is still to regulate online poker sites. There have been several attempts at it over the years, but so far, none have come to fruition.
It is a pretty safe bet that online poker in HI will be regulated at some point in the future, so the only real question is when. While it’s hard to give any definitive answer at this point in time, we continue to monitor the situation and will keep you updated with any important developments.
When online poker is finally legal in HI, there are a few sites that we can expect to go live. These are all operators with a major presence in the regulated US market, and they’ll likely jump at the opportunity to expand their presence.
BetMGM Poker Hawaii
BetMGM has established itself as a household name in the regulated US online poker space, and the operator will likely be among the first to stake a claim in such an attractive new market.
We expect BetMGM Poker will bring out a platform similar to that in other states like PA, MI, and NJ. A poker client powered by the PartyPoker technology offers a modern and very reliable solution for all online poker fans, even if it is not as rich in functionalities as some other platforms.
In terms of game variety, players can look forward to a nice mix of online tournaments, a wide range of cash game stakes, and, in all likelihood, BetMGM Poker’s staple SPINS – a hugely popular sit & go variation featuring a random jackpot.
It is also likely that BetMGM Poker HI will come out of the gate swinging, offering a generous welcome bonus. With what’s likely to be heavy competition in the state, all sites will look for ways to stand out, and this is generally a good thing for the players.
Although the company couldn’t enter the US before 2016, PokerStars has established itself as a staple name of online poker in the country, just like they have done in the global market.
Once the regulation is finally passed, the launch of PokerStars is pretty much a guarantee. This is especially true if the state passes a law with the expectation of joining the MSIGA, as the operator seems eager to take advantage of opportunities provided by interstate poker.
But even without that particular element, HI is a big enough market on its own.
What PokerStars brings to the table is the operator’s experience in organizing major online series, first and foremost. US versions of ‘COOP events have been hugely successful in all states where the site currently has a presence, and there is no reason to think Hawaii would be an exception.
PokerStars also offers one of the best software solutions for desktop computers and mobile devices alike. This enhances the player experience and certainly helps push the site towards the top of the list when deciding where to play.
The third HI poker site likely to go live as soon as legal requirements are met is WSOP.com. Right now, WSOP is the only operator present in all regulated US markets with active poker sites, and the company is on the constant lookout for expansion opportunities.
WSOP.com has one trump card that no other operators can match, which is its ability to host bracelet-awarding events and exclusive satellites to live World Series of Poker tournaments. This has helped the operator remain competitive across the country.
A launch in a new state would likely mean an exclusive bracelet series, giving players in the state great opportunities to win some WSOP silverware from the comfort of their home, and if past experience is any indicator, this is an opportunity that players jump on.
WSOP should have no problem claiming its fair share of the new market despite competitors, with the operators’ numbers surging during major live and online events.