Hawaii is one of the few states in the United States that doesn't allow any gambling, but somehow the people manage to find ways to place bets and play games of chance anyway and gambling addiction is just as much a problem there as in other states.
Gambling may be a problem in Hawaii because it's widely and culturally accepted despite the laws banning it in the state. Laws against it are seldom enforced with people turning a blind eye to illegal gaming rooms, cockfights, and more.
Experts and addicts in the state also claim that online gambling is only making the situation worse.
Because the state has banned gambling there are also no state-funded programs to help problem gamblers, which could be making the problem worse. According to Keith Whyte, the National Council on Problem Gambling executive director, gambling disorders are rooted in the human condition and aren't dependent on whether the activity is legal in a state.
When asked about the absence of state gambling addiction programs, Chiyome Fukino, the Hawaii State Health Director, said gambling problems fell more toward personal responsibility rather than a government one.
The National Council on Problem Gambling, which is based in Washington and doesn't advertise in Hawaii, received 763 calls last year from gamblers in Hawaii who were seeking help.
Concern about gambling addiction is growing in the state as many crimes in the past few years have been linked to gambling. This year, three Honolulu police officers were accused of conspiring with a card and cockfighting operation near an elementary school. There is also an investigation into officers who bet on the illegal fights.
Several companies have lobbied in the state to have the Legislature legalize gambling and pave the way for them to set up in Hawaii. Hawaiians obviously like gambling since the California Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas has around 10,000 visitors from Hawaii each month. However, groups like the Hawaii Coalition Against Legalized Gambling believe the state doesn't need gambling to help draw tourists and legalizing would do more harm than good for the state.