Online Gambling in Washington State Guide
Washington State is one of the more welcoming states for gambling - unless you like to gamble online. While there are many forms of legal gambling in Washington State, almost all forms of online gambling are explicitly illegal. There are harsh penalties for online gambling in Washington State, and the state has shown resistance to change. Let's look at Washington State gambling laws and whether we can realistically expect online gambling in Washington State to become legal in the future.
Legal Online Gambling in Washington State
Depending on which form of gambling you enjoy, Washington State is either one of the most liberal states or one of the most restrictive. If you enjoy live gambling, you will find plenty of options for gambling. However, the state is strictly anti-online gambling.
Forms of Legal Gambling in Washington State
Washington State has numerous live gambling options and at least two online gambling options. Let's take a look at them.
Forms of Online Gambling Allowed
There are only two forms of legal online gambling in Washington State:
Professional Gambling in Washington State
Some people classify themselves as professional gamblers, and it is crucial to know the laws of Washington State. Professional gambling is illegal in the state, and penalties can range from a gross misdemeanor to a Class B Felony.
Professional gambling is defined as participating in activities other than playing in a game. This can include the following:
For example, if you sit down to play a hand of poker and decide to do prop betting at the table, this is illegal and constitutes professional gambling. If you receive money from a casino to play, this is considered professional gambling. If online gambling in Washington were permitted, rakeback would make you a professional gambler.
If you are a professional gambler by trade, you need to be very careful in Washington State. If you plan to gamble, only do so as a player. Do not participate in prop bets, last longer bets, or anything not explicitly authorized by the casino and law.
History of Legal Gambling in Washington State
Gambling laws in Washington State date back to its original state constitution. When the state constitution was drafted in 1889, it prohibited lotteries. Since then, Washington State has been one of the most legislatively active states regarding gambling. Let's take a look at some of the important dates in its history:
Future Changes to Gambling Regulations in Washington State
While we wish we had great news for online gambling in Washington, the reality is that there is little happening to champion gambling legislation.
How You Can Help Online Gambling in Washington State
If you want online gambling in Washington State, you need to make your voice heard. Several examples exist where gambling expansion came from citizen groups.
Online Gambling Washington State FAQ
Can you bet on games in Washington State?
You can bet on games in Washington State; however, you are very limited in how you can. Sports betting is available, both live and online, but only at Native casinos. Casino games are only available at Native casinos and card rooms, and cannot be played online, even at these locations.
Why is online gambling illegal in Washington State?
Online gambling is illegal in Washington State as a result of laws passed by the state legislature in 2006. Unlike most other states, online gambling in Washington State is specifically illegal, stated to be a Class C felony in section 9.46.240 of the Revised Code of Washington. The only form of online gambling that is legal across Washington State is horse race betting.
What gambling is legal in Washington?
Washington state has 33 land-based tribal casinos and 42 land-based poker clubs. It has 2 horse tracks -- Emerald Downs in Auburn and Sun Downs in Kennewick -- and two off-track betting facilities (OTBs) in Bremerton and Centralia.
Also, 20 casino cruise ships leave from Washington ports. Windstar Cruises, Holland America, and Paul Gauguin Cruises also sail from Washington. The state also has a full list of Washington bingo halls. If you want to gamble online, though, Washington is one of the few states with a total ban on online gambling.
What online gambling is legal in Washington?
None of it. Online casinos, poker sites, and sports betting are strictly banned by the Washington State Gambling Commission. The WSGC has taken social gaming sites like Big Fish Games to court, seeking to ban even free-to-play gaming sites.
Washington regulators even sent cease-and-desist orders to the Seattle-based Valve Corporation (owner of the Steam platform) due to its use of paid loot boxes in its games. Thus, we recommend that Washington residents avoid online gambling until new laws are on the books.
Are Online Casinos Legal in Washington?
No, they aren't. Online casinos don't even exist in a legal gray area like most other US states. Washington state has a specific ban on online gambling. State officials have never prosecuted Washington residents for online gambling, though that doesn't mean they won't in the future. We suggest players avoid online casinos in Washington.
What happens if you get caught online gambling in Washington state?
Under Title 9 Chapter 9.46 Section 240, Washington considers it a class C felony to "knowingly transmit or receive gambling information by telephone, internet, or any other similar means". This law was enacted to cover new technologies that didn't exist when the 1973 Gambling Act or the lottery commission (1982) was established.
The WSGC's website states that it's illegal to engage in any of the following activities online: "1) staking something of value as consideration, 2) on the outcome of a contest of chance or a future event, 3) upon the agreement that a prize will be awarded in the event of a certain outcome." The Gambling Commission has a tip hotline and email for residents who spot illegal sites or illegal activity.
Class C felonies in Washington have no minimum mandatory sentence but carry a 5-year maximum sentence. Those convicted may have to pay a fine of up to $10,000. Do not engage in online gambling while in Washington.