Gambling Laws in Washington
Washington State generally has strict views and restrictions on gambling. Currently, there are only a few ways that you can legally place bets in WA. The State legislature defines gambling as “staking or risking something of value upon the outcome of a contest of chance or a future contingent event not under the person’s control or influence”.
This broad definition covers a lot of different forms of gaming, so it easy to restrict various forms of gaming. However, it expressly does not include fishing derbies, pari-mutuel betting or handicapping contests. It also does not apply to lotteries, and the state has enjoyed an official lottery since the early 1980s.
Gambling online is strictly prohibited in the state of Washington, which is the only state to categorize such offences as felonies. With this in mind, it is really best to make sure that you fully understand all of the Washington gambling laws before you plan a gambling session, whether online or at a land-based establishment. Read through the next few sections to get a clearer picture of the legal situation for each type of gaming.
- We have a thorough understanding of the Washington State Legislature and how it affects the gambling industry.
- We stay up to date on all news in the industry by following numerous local and national news outlets, including the Seattle Times and the Spokesman Review.
- We write casino games reviews and guides from an insider’s perspective. Check out our popular roulette guide, or head over to the blackjack page.
- Washington State seal
- Washington State Gambling Commission
- Seattle Times and Spokesman Review
Washington Sports Betting
Currently, almost all sports betting is illegal in the state of Washington. This could change in the future, as a bill was introduced in early 2019 that may open up sports gambling for Washingtonians. However, at the moment, the only permitted bets on sporting events are pari-mutuel horseracing wagers and fishing derbies. We have an entire page about Washington sports betting which you can check. There you will find regular updates about the legal situation as well.
Washington Daily Fantasy Sports
In 2011, the Gambling Commission pressed charges against a NASCAR daily fantasy site, arguing that this constituted sports betting, and so was illegal in the state. In 2016, the State Senate debated about the merits of allowing paid fantasy sports as a skilled-based, regulated form of gaming. However, no bills have passed into law, and as such, Washington daily fantasy betting is still illegal. On the other side, there are states that are much more liberal and you can enjoy even Alaska daily fantasy sports.
Washington Online Casinos
Despite the fact that there have been tribal casinos in Washington since the 1990s, the state remains firm on its opposition to online gambling. 2006 saw a bill passed that strictly and explicitly banned all forms of internet gambling. There appears to be no hint that things will change on this front; betting at online casinos, whether based in Washington or out of state, is a felony offense. For even more detailed information, check our guide for casinos in Washington.
Washington Online Poker
The situation for poker is almost identical to that of casinos in Washington. Land-based card games have been permitted at licensed casinos for some time, and casual games where there is no bank provided by the house are also allowed. However, all online poker in Washington is illegal. As with casino gambling, there seems to be no political will to legalize internet games.
The Washington State Lottery was introduced in 1982 after House Bill No. 1251 was passed into legislation. The intent was to provide the State with extra income, which could then be used to better fund education, health initiatives and social programs. It has been a popular part of Washington life ever since, and tickets can easily be found at hundreds of locations throughout the state, though you can’t purchase tickets or scratch cards online. For more information on the games and where to buy tickets read through our page dedicated to Washington lottery.
History of Gambling in Washington
The history of gambling in Washington is mostly a story of gambling being slowly opened up, with a couple of constant exceptions. From the early 20th century, when all forms of gambling were illegal, to today when most forms are at least legal in certain circumstances, with the exception of online gambling. See below for the biggest moments in Washington’s gambling history.
|1933||Pari-mutuel wagering on horseracing is legalized, though bets must be placed at the track.|
|1973||Charitable gaming (such as bingo and raffles) is legalized in the state.|
|1982||The Washington State Lottery is introduced.|
|1988||The Federal Indian Gambling Regulation Act is passed, allowing for casinos to be set up on tribal land in Washington.|
|1997||Non-tribal card rooms are permitted, as long as the games are peer to peer and do not involve a banked house.|
|2006||All internet gambling is explicitly outlawed and classified as a Class C felony.|
|2019||A bill is proposed that would legalize online sports betting at tribal casinos.|
Washington State Facts
The Evergreen State may be tucked up in the corner of the country, but it is by no means a backwater of America. It is one of the wealthiest and most progressive states in the union. It is home to Microsoft and to the Boeing final assembly plant in Everett, which is the world’s largest building. It is also the only state to be named after a president of the United States. You can find out some more facts about the state below, as well as head over to some useful websites.
|Biggest Offline Gambling Location||Muckleshoot Casino|
|Gambling Commissioner||Washington State Gambling Commission|
|Spoken Languages||English 82.51%, Spanish 7.79%, Chinese 1.19%|
|Biggest Local Sports Team||Seattle Seahawks|
|Washington Tax Authority||Department of Revenue|
|Link to the State Law||http://leg.wa.gov/|
|Gambling Winning Tax||Federal tax only|
|State Website Link||https://access.wa.gov/|
|Famous Local Gamblers||Alex Fitzgerald|
Gambling Age in Washington
You must be at least 18 years old in order to gamble in Washington. Some casinos actually require to be at least 21 before you can enter the premises, but this is because they serve alcohol on the playing floor. 21 is the legal age for drinking alcohol in WA, as with the rest of the country. Washington was one of the first states to legalize recreational and medical marijuana use, with the minimum age for recreational cannabis also set at 21.
Online Gambling Age:
Responsible Gambling and Addiction Prevention
Although online gambling is not allowed, Washington State is still unfortunately home to many problem gamblers. If you feel that your betting habits are causing you problems, or are having a negative impact on your life there are various organizations to whom you can turn for help. Head over to the National Council on Problem Gambling’s page for Washington to get some advice, or you can seek help from the Washington State Health Care Authority.
Upcoming Regulation and Expected Changes
As I mentioned earlier on this page, the biggest potential change on the horizon of the Washington State gambling landscape is a bill that was introduced in February 2019. It proposes that existing tribal casinos located within the borders of the state will be allowed to facilitate sports betting from patrons located on their premises. There is not yet a consensus on the likelihood of this bill passing into law, so it is best to keep checking back here for changes. We will endeavor to make sure that this page is kept bang up to date.