Daily fantasy sports (DFS) games are legal to play in the District of Columbia, with big brands like DraftKings and FanDuel accepting paying players. The likes of DraftKings have previously issued statements that imply that daily fantasy sports are legal for D.C. players since it's a skill-based game. The authorities have put up little opposition to DFS, and with calls for a broader legalization of sports betting gathering support, that will remain the case. Even if DFS law aren't codified, players have no risk playing in the nation's capital.
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Washington D.C. is not one of the more robust locals for gambling - but it is poised to be one of the first jurisdictions with legal online sports betting.
The governing Washington D.C. Council passed a bill in early 2019 that would legalize sports betting within the District limits. Though debates over operator contracts, as well as other key regulatory details, could delay sports betting until Sept. 2019, the District could still be one of the earliest adopters of online sports betting.
The District of Columbia is a federal district, rather than a state, and it also serves as the nation's capital city. When it comes to gambling laws, "district" for all practical purposes means "state," except that its laws are determined by a council instead of a legislature. It operates in much the same way, though all local ordinances are subject to final approval from Congress.
With this notable change to sports betting laws, lawmakers have tended to be strict when it comes to gambling regulations; the capital is infamous for its lack of casinos and racetracks. Online gambling remains illegal in the district.
D.C. gamblers do not have the options of those in many states when it comes to casino and parimutuel racetrack betting. This means there are no Native Indian tribal casinos, no licensed card rooms, and no legal horse, dog or sports betting facilities. However, charitable gambling is legal, including charity bingo, raffles and Monte Carlo nights in which players use "fun casino chips" that can be exchanged for prizes at the end of the night. There's also the D.C. Lottery and keno machines, which at least give residents a chance to play.
But for the most part, Washington D.C. has always had a restrictive view of gambling. In fact, it wasn't until 1982 when council members finally decided to give residents some freedom to play the lottery. In recent years, the campaign for greater gambling freedom has gained some traction, with D.C. authorities making moves for gambling liberation, particularly on the internet.
Overall, if you're searching for an amazing gambling region to move to or visit, Washington, D.C., isn't likely to make your bucket list. You're better off visiting Maryland or West Virginia, or by taking a road trip to Atlantic City. While the city has little push for a land-based casino, there's been some hope for online gambling, inclusive of casinos, poker and sports betting.
In part due to the plethora of gambling options in surrounding jurisdictions, changes to sports betting laws could come shortly. Expect that to spark further developments in D.C. gambling in the next few years.
While land-based casino gamblers in Washington, DC, have no options in the district, there is some good news. First, nearby Maryland has multiple casinos, including the MGM National Harbor just across the district line, as well as several other facilities within an hour's drive of Washington. And with Atlantic City about a three-hour drive away, there's a good excuse for a gambling road trip now and then.
Online options are still non-existent, however, so players would need to cross into New Jersey in order to place a casino-style game through the internet.
The gambling landscape for poker players in the Washington D.C. is much the same as for casinos. That means poker rooms can't be found legally in D.C., but hopping over to Maryland means you can hit the tables with gusto. Or the stakes can be taken higher with a weekend poker trip to Atlantic City. Online poker is another option in New Jersey and Delaware but it's still illegal here.
Sports bettors in the Washington DC have been restricted for decades, with even horse racing betting ruled illegal. This remains the case online. The fact that D.C. authorities have previously tried to legalize and regulate some forms of online gambling could be positive news for the district's sports bettors since there's speculation that there will be a push toward it in the near future. Councilmember Jack Evans publically supported legalization and with nearby Delaware and New Jersey recording millions in handle every month on sports bets, the nation's capital may be more open than in the past.