There are currently no legal online or retail sports betting options in Hawaii. Unlike other US states, HI views gambling as a misdemeanor with a penalty of a year in jail and a fine. The state even prohibits Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) following a decision by HI’s Attorney General in January 2016.
However, there has been strong support of sports betting from state lawmakers. Seven sports betting bills have been introduced to the Hawaii Legislature since the US Supreme Court struck down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) in May 2018. These bills either proposed appropriating funds for study into sports betting or legalizing sports betting outright. So far, all have failed.
In February 2022, HB 1962, an appropriation bill for funding to study the impact of sports betting, progressed to a third reading, the furthest that a bill has advanced in Hawaii. It failed to advance any further. While there is support for sports betting in HI, it still seems like it won’t be legalized soon.
Read our guide to Hawaii sports betting to discover more about the legislative history, current laws, and popular sports in the Aloha State.
Despite no major league sports teams calling Hawaii home, many sports fans in the state would be interested in betting. The best-followed teams are from the University of Hawaii Rainbow Warriors, who compete in NCAA Division I in basketball and football.
Elsewhere, other major league sports are likely to have plenty of interest from bettors should legal sports betting launch. Below is an overview of the possible most popular sports to bet on if sports betting legislation passes.
Pro football is the US largest betting market, and should sports betting come to Hawaii, it’s likely to be popular in the Aloha State. Interest in the NFL grew with the entrance of star QBs Tua Tagovailoa and Marcus Mariota into the league.
If legalization does occur, bettors in Hawaii would have many options to bet, including on moneylines and over/under totals. You can also place future bets, like Tua Tagovailoa to add a Super Bowl ring to his CFP title from his college days.
There is no professional baseball team in HI, not even at the minor league level, with the Hawaii Islanders, the last minor league team based in HI, relocating in 1988. That doesn’t mean baseball wouldn’t be popular with bettors should sports betting arrive.
The Hawaii Winter Baseball League intermittently satisfied the interest of baseball fans on the island from 1993-2008, with baseball legends like Ichiro Suzuki and Jason Giambi playing in the tournament.
There have also been some great players in the MLB from Hawaii, most notably Shane Victorino, known as the “Flyin’ Hawaiian.” He played for the San Diego Padres, Philadelphia Phillies, Los Angeles Dodgers, Boston Red Sox, and Los Angeles Angels over his career. He won the 2013 World Series, the Lou Gehrig Memorial Award, and the Branch Rickey Award in Philadelphia.
If the state legalizes sports betting, Hawaii’s baseball fans could bet on run lines and totals. They could also potentially bet on same-game parlays if top US sportsbooks are allowed to launch.
While Hawaii doesn’t have a professional basketball team, the NBA is familiar to bettors and fans in the Aloha State. The Los Angeles Clippers regularly hold preseason games in Hawaii, and the Los Angeles Lakers have many committed fans throughout the state.
Hawaii’s basketball bettors will have the option of pre-game and in-play betting if sportsbooks launch. They would have the opportunity to bet on both Los Angeles NBA teams as well as a range of futures, like the NBA Finals winners or betting on the MVP award.
The University of Hawaii Rainbow Warriors football and basketball teams are the most popular teams in Hawaii and would attract the most interest from bettors should betting be legalized. Both compete at the NCAA Division I level, with its football team playing in the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) as a member of the Mountain West Conference (MWC) and its basketball team playing in the Big West Conference.
The highlight of its football teams’ history was its 2007/08 season when under long-time head coach June Jones, it completed an undefeated regular season. As a part of this, the team won the Western Athletic Conference outright for the first time and reached the 2008 Sugar Bowl against the University of Georgia Bulldogs. Its basketball team has made five appearances in the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, reaching the second round in 2016.
If lawmakers legalize collegiate bets alongside professional sports betting, expect the Rainbow Warriors teams to attract the bulk of interest from Hawaiian bettors.
While Hawaii hasn’t got any major league sports teams, it is still home to plenty of top sporting events throughout the calendar year. The PGA Tour stops in Hawaii, and HI hosts top college football and basketball competitions.
See below for our overview of the best Hawaiian sporting events.
The Hawaii Bowl is a postseason college football game played in Honolulu since 2002 for teams in the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) of the NCAA Division I. The bowl features teams from the Mountain West Conference (MWC) and the American Athletic Conference (The American) and is typically played on Christmas Eve.
While the Hawaii Bowl is the only bowl game currently in Hawaii, there have been previous matchups. These include the Poi Bowl (1936-1939), the Pineapple Bowl (1941-1952), the Aloha Bowl (1982-2000), and Oahu Bowl (1998-2000). In 2002, the organizers inaugurated the Hawaii Bowl to replace the departing Aloha and Oahu Bowls. The game is always held at the Aloha Stadium, but was temporarily moved in 2022 to the Clarence T. C. Ching Athletics Complex due to Covid-19.
If Hawaii Rainbow Warriors are bowl-eligible, the team is usually awarded a berth in the Hawaii Bowl. However, if the team gets a berth in a College Football Playoff (CFP) bowl game, it will decline the invitation to the Hawaii Bowl. This last occurred in 2008 under the CFP’s predecessor, the Bowl Championship Series (BCS), after Hawaii posted a perfect regular season and faced Georgia in the Sugar Bowl. Hawaii has made the most appearances at the Hawaii Bowl, with nine.
The Tournament of Champions is the first tournament of the calendar year in the PGA Tour, played on the island of Maui in Hawaii at the Kapalua Resort. The event features players from the previous calendar year who have won a tournament on the PGA Tour schedule and those who are eligible to compete in the Tour Championship.
Previously the event was held in two other cities around the US: Las Vegas from 1953-1968, and Carlsbad, CA, from 1968-1999, before moving to Kapalua in 1999. Initially a smaller field, in 2021, the event expanded to include Tour Championship qualifiers alongside the traditional tournament winners.
Jack Nicklaus is the most successful player in tournament history, winning five times between 1963 and 1977. In 2022, Cameron Smith made history when he scored the lowest 72-hole to-par, shooting 34 under to win.
The Diamond Head Classic is a three-day invitational college basketball tournament held at the Stan Sheriff Center in Honolulu, the University of Hawaii Rainbow Warriors home court. Eight teams play a minimum of three games during the competition.
The event was inaugurated in 2009 when the University of South California Trojans defeated the University of Nevada-Las Vegas Rebels to win the first title. Organizers postponed the 2020 event due to the Covid-19 pandemic. A year later, the tournament was forced to cancel the 2021 final between the Stanford University Cardinal and Vanderbilt University Commodores after an outbreak of Covid-19 in the Cardinal camp.
The USC Trojans are the most successful team in the tournament’s history, winning twice. In 2022, the Rainbow Warriors won its first tournament on home soil, beating the Southern Methodist University (SMU) Mustangs 58-57 in the final. Previous MVPs of the event have included Detroit Pistons shooting guard Rodney McGruder.
Surfing is one of the state sports of Hawaii, known as He’e Nalu, so it is no surprise the World Surf League (WSL) regularly visits the Aloha State. The WSL was founded in 1976 as International Professional Surfing and organized the first professional surfing events. The most successful surfers in WSL history are Kelly Slater and Stephanie Gilmore, who have won 11 and eight titles, respectively.
Across all events, Hawaii is the second-best performing nation, with 64 total victories. This is five more than the rest of the US. Surfers from Hawaii have particularly excelled in the Triple Crown Champions event, winning 22 championships. The closest rival is Australia, with nine.
In 2022, Hawaii hosted the first two events of the WSL calendar, with the Billabong Pipeline Masters and Hurley Pro Sunset Beach. Kelly Slater has won the most Pipeline Masters, claiming eight championships, including one in 2022. Andy Irons was the most successful Hawaiian, winning four titles.
It seems unlikely that legislators will legalize sports betting in Hawaii in the near future. While seven bills have been proposed to commission the study of sports betting or its full legalization, none have progressed further than a second reading. Despite this, lawmakers have attempted to legalize sports betting in 2019, 2021, and 2022, showing that legislative interest remains.
No, you can’t bet on sports using your phone in Hawaii, as sports betting is currently illegal in the state. If you want to bet on sports in a safe and legal way, you will need to visit a US state where online sports betting is legalized, like Nevada or Arizona.
No, Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) is illegal in Hawaii, along with all other forms of gambling. In January 2016, the state’s then-Attorney General, Doug Chin, indicated that DFS is technically illegal gambling under state law. No DFS operators are licensed or permit entries from players in Hawaii.
Since sports betting is illegal in Hawaii, you cannot use DraftKings Sportsbook. As DFS games are also outlawed, you’re not allowed to use DraftKings’ DFS service either. However, DK is a big supporter of legalizing sports betting in HI, as the sportsbook was involved in discussions about HB 736.
Hawaii has a long-standing aversion to gambling stretching back to 1893 and the overthrowing of Queen Lili’uokalani. As such, lawmakers have not passed any legislation to legalize gambling. In addition, there are no Native American tribes in HI that operate casinos and gambling establishments in the rest of the US.
Hawaii Revised Statutes 706-640 and 706-663 classify gambling as a misdemeanor. Individuals gambling are liable to face up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $2,000. If you want to gamble legally, you must travel to a state in the US where sports betting is legal.
It is unclear whether any sports betting legislation will gain enough support amongst Hawaii’s lawmakers to pass the State Legislature. Hawaii does not allow gambling and has no casinos, so there is no precedent or regulatory structure.
This means it would be challenging to create a market like others in the US, requiring land-based partnerships. Therefore, the most likely path to legalization would be an online-exclusive market like Wyoming or Tennessee.
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