Kokua Line

By June Watanabe

Monday, March 25, 2002

Feeling lucky? Then you’d
better gamble off the isles

Question: Is it legal for Hawaii residents to buy a lottery ticket on the mainland and to bring the ticket home to Hawaii and, if the ticket is a winner, to go back to the mainland to claim the prize? If no, how does that differ from a Hawaii resident gambling in Las Vegas and bringing the winnings home? In another situation, is it legal to have someone buy the ticket and hand deliver it to us? If there is a legal way to participate in a lottery, please inform us on how it can be done.

Answer: If you buy a lottery ticket outside Hawaii and win, you can legally bring your winnings back to Hawaii. Even if you buy the ticket, say in Texas, return home, then find out two weeks later that you hit the jackpot, you can celebrate -- the prize is yours to keep no matter how it is delivered to you.

"We're not going to be camping by your door waiting to arrest you," assured Maj. Darryl Perry of the Honolulu Police Department's Narcotics/Vice Division.

There have been "individuals who went to Las Vegas and won hundreds of thousands of dollars. They took the payments in increments, and the moneys are still coming to them," Perry said. "We can't do anything about it."

The main restriction is that you cannot buy a lottery ticket from Hawaii, even if the ticket is legally being sold in another state, Perry said. That means, in Hawaii you can't legally gamble by phone, by mail, by Internet or by someone buying a ticket for you at your request.

Bottom line: "You have to actually leave the state" to gamble, he said.

"In a nutshell," Perry explained that there are three elements that constitute illegal gambling in Hawaii: consideration, chance and prize.

Consideration is when you have to pay for something, he said. As an example, "You tell people we are going to raffle off a blanket, but you have to give us $10 for a ticket," Perry explained. Your ticket goes into a big barrel with other tickets, and a winner is randomly drawn.

Because you had to buy a ticket, the three elements -- consideration, chance and prize -- are there, and "therefore that constitutes illegal gambling."

But when a Hawaii resident goes out of state and gambles in a city where gambling is legal, "the venue is different ... so none of the infractions occurred here. The prize is brought back here, but the infraction did not occur here, so there is no violation."

However, if you go on an Internet gambling site, for example, Perry says "all the elements are there for illegal gambling -- consideration, prize and chance -- and it's occurring in our venue (Hawaii)."

Perry said police don't care where the gambling is actually taking place, such as the Bahamas. But because you're sitting in Hawaii, police consider the gambling as "originating in our state, and it's a violation of our state laws."

All this said "social gambling" is allowed in the state, with Hawaii Revised Statutes (Section 712-1231) specifically detailing what constitutes social gambling.

To be considered social gambling, players must compete on equal terms with each other; not receive anything other than personal winnings; not pay any other person or entity anything of value, including use of premises, refreshments, lodging, etc.; not play in any business establishment of any kind or in public parks, public buildings, public beaches, school grounds, churches or any other public area; and be at least 18 years old.

Got a question or complaint?
Call 529-4773, fax 529-4750, or write to Kokua Line,
Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., No. 7-210,
Honolulu 96813. As many as possible will be answered.
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