Players have plenty of legal opportunities to gamble in Washington. However, Washington gambling laws are extremely strict when it comes to online gaming, including poker and daily fantasy sports.
Washington Gambling Laws
The “Revised Code of Washington” contains the legal definition of gambling. Gambling in Washington means “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.” Fishing derbies, pari-mutuel betting and handicapping contest are not covered by this definition. The Washington State Constitution specifically outlaws all gambling activities that are not authorized in state law.
Legal forms of gambling in Washington happen on Native American land, racetracks, charity gambling, and card rooms. This variety allows for more than 100 legal gambling establishments in the state, providing many choices for potential gamblers. The Tribal-State gaming compacts were amended in 2015. Currently, all 29 of the federally recognized Indian Tribes in Washington have signed a gambling compact with the state. Tribal casinos in Washington offer slots, card games and video poker.
Besides casinos, there are numerous card rooms in Washington, offering poker and sometimes even tournaments. Washington gambling laws prohibit greyhound wagering but allow for pari-mutuel wagering on horse racetracks. Sports books and bookmaking are illegal in the state. “Fantasy sports have never been authorized as gambling activities in Washington State and are illegal,” clarifies the Washington State Gambling
Online Gambling in Washington
Washington gambling laws specifically prohibit both organizing and participating in online gambling activities. Engaging in internet gambling in Washington is a class C felony and might get punished “by confinement in a state correctional institution for five years,” or by a fine of USD 10,000, or both confinement and fine. In 2008, authorities seized computers, records and money from EZPay for providing payment services for online gambling sites in Washington.
HB 1114 would authorize and regulate internet poker in Washington by amending some of the Washington gambling laws. The bill claims that “playing poker over the internet [is] popular with Washington state players,” despite the lack of regulation. The online poker bill was reintroduced and retained in the 2016 session.
Lotteries in Washington
Just like other US lotteries, the Washington Lottery was established to fund state programs. They offer scratch tickets and draw games such as Powerball, Mega Millions, or Hit 5. The Washington Lottery is overseen by the five-member Lottery Commission. Tickets cannot be purchased online, “the only legal Washington’s Lottery ticket is one purchased at a licensed Lottery retail store location in Washington State.”
Daily Fantasy Sports in Washington
It’s not legal to play or organize daily fantasy sports in Washington. “Fantasy sports have never been authorized as gambling activities in Washington State and are illegal,” says the Washington State Gambling Commission. Furthermore, online gambling is illegal as well. In conclusion, daily fantasy sports sites are not authorized, regulated, or legal in Washington. Currently, there are four daily fantasy sports bills in the legislature. SB 5284, SB 6333, and HB HB 1301 would classify the daily fantasy sports as game of skill. HB 2370 would specifically prohibit daily fantasy sports in Washington.