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Hawaii To Beef Up Enforcement Of Poker Laws

Police Say They Will Increase Crackdowns On Illegal Gaming


Police in Hawaii say they are ramping up enforcement of the state’s gambling laws, which are among the strictest in the country. Utah is the only other state without a gaming industry.

According to a report from, authorities on the island of Oahu, home to Honolulu, say that as many as 100 illegal gambling dens are in operation on any given day. That includes gambling machines as well as poker games. Hawaii has a history of poker raids.

“Game rooms affect people of all ages and social economic levels,” the Honolulu Police Department said. “We sometimes hear people say that gambling is harmless form of entertainment, however we know that game rooms are often the hubs of illegal activity.”

Under Hawaiian law, poker is legal only as a “social” activity, meaning that literally no one other than the players themselves can make money from the game. For-profit poker businesses in the state of Texas, for example, have for now found a way around anti-gambling laws by charging membership and seat fees, as well as selling food and beverages. That wouldn’t fly in Hawaii.

Hawaii does have a legitimate poker scene despite no legal card rooms. According to World Series of Poker data, Hawaiians bought into bracelet events this past summer a combined 527 times, putting it 32nd among U.S. states.

Give its lack of casinos, it’s been a bit of a head-scratcher when some lawmakers there have flirted with the idea of pushing an online gambling bill.