There's good news and bad news if you're looking to gamble in Washington state. Land-based gambling is given a degree of freedom — but by no means is it a free-for-all. Despite a gray zone of legality, online gambling is not licensed and therefore unavailable legally to Washington players.
It's important to know that Washington, unlike some states, has written laws about playing online. Here it's illegal to play "any unregulated gambling" game. Indeed, in 2006, the state of Washington made a law that criminalized online gambling, and the ruling was reinforced in 2011. There are no legal channels to play online casino for real money and little interest from lawmakers to change these laws in the foreseeable future.
Online poker players are in much the same boat. Unlike some other states, there's been little push for a regulated online poker market in the Evergreen State.
Washington presents many entertainment options. Sports betting is not among them. Legislators in Olympia have not pursued a sports betting bill, even though the federal ban was struck down by the Supreme Court earlier this year. Up to two dozen states are expected to consider sports betting bills in 2019 and this increase in interest nationwide may eventually spark action by the legislature. In the meantime, Washington sports betting remains on the backburner.
Washington is one of a handful of states where leading daily fantasy sites like DraftKings and Fanduel don't operate. The state previously pursued criminal charges against residents offering similar fantasy sports games and out-of-state providers have avoided the market for similar fears of legal charges. Lawmakers have held hearings about a daily fantasy legalization bill and, as much of the rest of the nation embraces these games, there could be changes. In the meantime, there are no legal avenues to play games like these.
Retail sports betting is legalized but only at two tribal casinos about 35 miles north of Seattle. Once it launches (likely in the second half of 2021) any sports bets must be placed inside those two casinos.
Pressure to legalize mobile sports betting, online casino gaming and fantasy sports grows, but authorities continue to resist.
A bid by the Poker Players Alliance to legalize online gambling fails in Supreme Court. •2013 – Interstate poker bill fails to pass inspection.
Internet gambling laws make it technically illegal to gamble online.
Card rooms away from tribal lands are legalized, offering non-banked peer to peer games including poker.
Indian tribal casinos start construction and operation.
Federal Indian Gambling Regulation Act lays the foundation for tribal casinos.
State lottery is launched.
Charity gambling is allowed via the Gambling Commission (bingo, pull-tabs, raffles and casino evenings).
Pari-mutuel betting on horse racing is legalized.
"Three decades covering online gaming, news and sports. My expertise is government and legislation, breaking down the latest online gambling industry developments to keep you in the know."