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Hawaii State Gambling Law

Discussion in 'Home Poker and the LAW' started by usnavy2002, Jul 4, 2008.

  1. usnavy2002

    usnavy2002 Well-Known Member

    Jun 18, 2008
    Likes Received:
    West of the Chicago, Illinois
    Ok, for starters 'social gambling' is the only type of gambling that is legal in Hawaii..... but what the hell does that mean. I've read a few other threads about similar issues in other states, but I still don't get it. The sad part is that the law doesnt have any legal mumbo-jumbo, it just leaves alot to the imagination:

    §712-1231 Social gambling; definition and specific conditions, affirmative defense. (a) Definition.
    "Social gambling" means gambling in which all of the following conditions are present:
    (1) Players compete on equal terms with each other; and
    (2) No player receives, or becomes entitled to receive, anything of value or any profit, directly or indirectly, other than the player's personal gambling winnings; and
    (3) No other person, corporation, unincorporated association, or entity receives or becomes entitled to receive, anything of value or any profit, directly or indirectly, from any source, including but not limited to permitting the use of premises, supplying refreshments, food, drinks, service, lodging or entertainment; and
    (4) It is not conducted or played in or at a hotel, motel, bar, nightclub, cocktail lounge, restaurant, massage parlor, billiard parlor, or any business establishment of any kind, public parks, public buildings, public beaches, school grounds, churches or any other public area; and
    (5) None of the players is below the age of majority; and
    (6) The gambling activity is not bookmaking.
    (b) Affirmative defense:
    (1) In any prosecution for an offense described in [section] 712-1223, 712-1224, 712-1225 or 712-1226, a defendant may assert the affirmative defense that the gambling activity in question was a social gambling game as defined in [section] 712-1231(a).
    (2) If the defendant asserts the affirmative defense, the defendant shall have the burden of going forward with evidence to prove the facts constituting such defense unless such facts are supplied by the testimony of the prosecuting witness or circumstance in such testimony, and of proving such facts by a preponderance of evidence.
    (c) In any prosecution for an offense described in this part the fact that the gambling activity involved was other than a social gambling game shall not be an element of the offense to be proved by the prosecution in making out its prima facie case. [L 1973, c 201, pt of §1; gen ch 1993]

    okay, maybe there is some legal jargon in there but....... 'players must be on equal terms with each other' ? Im reading this as a tournament with no rebuys or add-ons is legal, but any game where one player has more paid more money into the pool would be illegal. i.e. tournament w/rebuys or addons (unless all players did the addon and thus would be equal)

    And the affirmative defense sounds like you are guilty of illegal gambling until proven innocent.... and it doesnt seem easy to prove that it was a social game.

    I am probably being paranoid.... but this stems from a dumb move I made:
    I live in military housing and my house is in a cul de sac with about 10 houses around it.... I work very odd hours (im about to get off a 12 hr shift in a few minutes @5am) and I always have most of my neigbors over for my biweekly game... They all work days so I never see them. Here's the problem: I posted a sign up on my mailbox stating I was having a poker game this weekend. I recieved a call from the housing management office the next day stating that I need to pull it down or they were going to notify the police because I was promoting gambling. see 712-1221-2 Hawaii Gambling Laws Was this breaking the law? The only way I profit is if I win......and social gambling is legal, right?

    look, I apologize for this longwinded crap.... disregard if it makes no sense
  2. AlbinoDragon

    AlbinoDragon Well-Known Member

    Dec 3, 2006
    Likes Received:
    Tucson, AZ
    I'm wondering if the fact you are in military housing was ultimately the problem....

    That, and having an open posted announcement probably wasn't the best idea either. That does come across as promoting a game rather than inviting friends over for a friendly game. A better option would have been to stick the note on each of your neighbor's doors rather than on the community mailbox in the cul-de-sac where everyone can see it.

    Looking at the "law" as you posted, it's pretty standard for those states that allow social gambling. Again, I think the problem is the fact of where you happen to live (military housing... not the state).

    I'd suggest just keeping it a little more on the down low in the future.
  3. Hoos Crazy Now

    Hoos Crazy Now Well-Known Member

    Jun 16, 2008
    Likes Received:
    Fairfax, VA
    I'm an attorney in Virginia, not Hawaii, but I don't see any problems here. First off, take a look at the statute they are accusing you of violating (posted below). There is no way on earth that posting a flyer inviting people to a social game falls within this statute. You are not engaging in bookmaking or running numbers, which seem to be the focus of that statute.

    Second, your home game should be perfectly legal as long as you comply with the statute you posted. Military housing may not permit you to run a game (that would be up to your base commander), but the State of Hawaii cannot prosecute you for violating base rules. As far as the Social Gambling rule goes - military housing is certainly not a business establishment, nor is it a public place. So you don't have an issue there.

    Third, I think you have a pretty good argument that playing poker is not even gambling under the Hawaii State Gambling Law. "A person engages in gambling if he stakes or risks something of value upon the outcome of a contest of chance or a future contingent event not under his control or influence, upon an agreement or understanding that he or someone else will receive something of value in the event of a certain outcome." There is case law from California and elsewhere that indicates that poker is a game of skill rather than a game of chance.

    §712-1221 Promoting gambling in the first degree.
    (1) A person commits the offense of promoting gambling in the first degree if the person knowingly advances or profits from gambling activity by:
    (a) Engaging in bookmaking to the extent that the person receives or accepts in any seven-day period more than five bets totaling more than $500; or
    (b) Receiving in connection with a lottery, or mutuel scheme or enterprise, money or written records from a person other than a player whose chances or plays are represented by such money or records; or
    (c) Receiving or having become due and payable in connection with a lottery, mutuel, or other gambling scheme or enterprise, more than $1,000 in any seven-day period played in the scheme or enterprise.
    (2) Promoting gambling in the first degree is a class C felony.
  4. Harlequin011

    Harlequin011 Sin City Showdown Host

    Feb 1, 2006
    Likes Received:
    In Cincinnati, Out of Position
    an even playing field means no one is cheating or has an advantage. Such as the house player gets three cards. For your re-buy and add-on tournament you'll be fine as long as it's the same rules for everyone.
  5. usnavy2002

    usnavy2002 Well-Known Member

    Jun 18, 2008
    Likes Received:
    West of the Chicago, Illinois
    The housing representative I talked to didn't read the laws that she was stating I was breaking before she called. When I called her back after getting all my info together she took an entirely different tone. I knew my game was legal, but I was unsure about the posting of the flyer. The section that worries me is this:
    §712-1222 Promoting gambling in the second degree.
    (1) A person commits the offense of promoting gambling in the second degree if the person knowingly advances or profits from gambling activity.
    (2) Promoting gambling in the second degree is a misdemeanor.

    To me, I would see this as illegal *promoting a gambling event, participating and winning money* because I would have then profited.... This is how I read it.....I dont see this as being what they meant when it was written, but the only thing that matters is how they interperet it now. hell, as long as I alway lose, I won't have to worry about breaking the law....

    The housing office basically said they agree my game is not illegal, but insist advertising it is. They only care that I posted the flyer on their mailbox, it's noted in my lease that nothing can be posted there so I took it down, had my game (turnout kind of sucked) and busted out on the bubble...

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