Maui Discussion

Ask the Mayor: Is Playing Cribbage at a Bar Illegal?

October 23, 2017, 12:01 PM HST
* Updated October 23, 12:08 PM
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Cribbage board. PC: Bruce Guenter

Mayor Alan Arakawa answers some of the questions submitted to his staff. Questions submitted will be considered for inclusion in the “Ask the Mayor” column. Submit your own questions about County of Maui programs, services, operations or policies to Mayor Alan Arakawa at (808) 270-7855, [email protected]  or mail them to 200 S. High St., 9th Floor, Wailuku, HI 96793.

Dear Mayor Arakawa,

Q: A friend and I were having dinner at a sparsely-attended outdoor restaurant recently. While we were enjoying our pre-dinner drinks, we pulled out a cribbage board to play a game. (In case anyone might not know, cribbage requires a board and cards.) The restaurant’s manager told us there was a law that says we cannot play cards where liquor is served because we “might be betting” and that he could be fined $10,000 if he allowed us to continue. We have played cribbage at many restaurants, and this was the first time we’d heard of that law. Is it really a law, or was this manager misinformed? 

A: The manager probably was erring on the side of caution, and indeed he was in error as the game of cribbage you were playing would most likely not be considered “entertainment” but personal use. The Enforcement division of the Department of Liquor Controls says that currently, a deck of cards is not considered as a game device. Customers sitting at a bar playing solitaire or doing a few magic tricks for laughs with friends are not considered official “entertainment.” However, if a person is doing magic tricks with the intent of entertaining guests/patrons at a venue where alcohol is served, that would be considered “entertainment” which would trigger the venue’s need for a permit. The permit would be required regardless of whether the entertainer is being compensated or not; it is based on the intent of the use of the cards at the establishment.

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