How the Gambling Laws in Washington State Are Managed


In Washington State, it is illegal to gamble unless your activity has been authorized by the State. Gambling in Washington involves three main elements: chance, prize, and consideration.

The Washington State Gambling Commission defines gambling as staking something valuable on the result of a contest of chance or future event that isn’t under anyone’s control with the hope of receiving something valuable in return. If you conduct illegal gambling activities, you may face criminal charges. Keep reading to learn how gambling activities are regulated in the State.

How Gambling Laws Are Enforced

The Washington State Gambling Commission regulates and licenses all the legal gambling activities in Washington. However, it isn’t responsible for the State Lottery and horse racing. The commission controls and investigates unauthorized gambling activities. It also co-regulates Tribal gaming activities following agreements between the State and Tribes. The Fish and Wildlife Commission oversees and regulates fishing derbies and big game animal hunts.

When you apply for a gambling license in Washington, you will undergo financial and criminal background checks. The goal is to ensure that online qualified people can get into the industry. The investigations can go on for up to 90 days.

Gambling Activity in Washington

On average, a license from the Washington State Gambling Commission covers various games, their rules, and the involved equipment. These games include Red Dog, baccarat, roulette, blackjack, poker, Pai Gow Poker, and bingo. Even though these games are legal, they can be illegal if played in unlicensed gambling establishments. Promotional contests, raffles, bingo, and sweepstakes where you can win food or money are permitted.

The state also allows you to bet on amusement games, punch boards, and sports pools. Sports wagering is illegal if you do not place the wager yourself at a tribal casino. The state does not permit you to place bets when the player is not physically present at the gaming facility. Illegal sports wagers are punishable by the law.

Games of chance like video poker, slots, video pull-ups, and pachinko are illegal in the state. You can only play them at tribal casinos. Greyhound races are illegal as well.

Underage Gambling and Other Gambling Crimes

In Washington State, the legal gambling age is 18. However, some casinos may reserve their gaming floors for guests aged 21 or older. Underage gambling is illegal and it can attract a fine of up to $125, court costs, and community service of up to four hours.

Gambling before you attain the legal age is considered a civil infraction. Other gambling crimes may include cheating, bookmaking, and card counting. Even though many government organizations and private sectors do not agree if card counting is cheating or just a skill, it isn’t permitted in the state.

Professional Gambling

Professional gambling is not permitted in Washington. If you have considerable interest or control over gambling premises, you may be charged with the crime of professional gambling. You may face similar charges for allowing unauthorized gambling on your premises.

You may be engaging in professional gaming if you knowingly act in the following activities other than as a player: Paying a fee to take part in card games, lottery, contests of chance, or other gambling activities, receiving or accepting property or money through participation in gambling activities, or engaging in conduct that promotes any forms of gambling.

Any forms of gambling that are connected to animal fights are illegal in the state. The state also prohibits being present at animal fights and training them to fight. It does not matter if professional gambling is happening.

Professional gambling in Washington State is a criminal charge. The charges can range from a gross misdemeanor to something as serious as a class B felony. The penalties range from $5,000 to $20,000 in fines or one to ten years in prison.

Sports Wagering

In Washington, sports wagering is illegal except in 100-square sports pool boards. It is illegal to offer dice games, card games, or any other gambling activities for profit. Only licensed card rooms are allowed to make profits from card games. There are restricted conditions for organizations that wish to have their members play unlicensed dice and card games.

The state allows you to own antique slot machines only if they are at least 25 years old and you do not get profits from them. Other illegal gambling devices include: Pachinko and pachislo machines, video poker pull-tabs, and any other electronic games of chance.

Workplace Gambling

Washington has permitted gambling since 1973. However, it has very strict rules around it. If you are not careful, it is easy to get in trouble. The state only allows you to gamble in the workplace under specific instances called ‘sports wagering.’ For instance, you can have one sports pool board for a particular event. That board needs to be split into 100 squares. Every purchaser will sign their name on the square they buy. Note that Washington only permits sports betting. It has never authorized office sports tools or bracket pools.

Washington State Online Gambling

Washington State does not permit the operation of online entertainment sites. According to the Washington Revised Code, it is illegal to transmit gambling information on the internet. The law limits both operators and players. The State is one of the few ones with specific laws regarding online gambling.

According to the Washington State Constitution, gambling activities are prohibited unless the State authorizes them. Since online gambling has never been authorized, it remains illegal in Washington. The Washington State Legislature changed RCW 9.46.240 in 2006 to clarify that the State does not permit internet gambling. It is illegal to gamble on the internet, operate an online gambling site, facilitate online gambling, or install equipment that may receive or send gambling details.

In the State, gambling on the internet is considered a felony. It is a lot stricter than in most States where it is considered a misdemeanor. Since the State has gone to great lengths to make online gambling illegal, it is unlikely to legalize it in the new future.