Washington State is one of the leading states for online gambling. Though the population does not compare to California, Texas or Florida, players from Washington are taking up online casino gaming.
All online casinos are based offshore, due to State Laws explicitly prohibiting onshore operators from providing any form of gaming online. Offshore online providers are regulated and licensed at jurisdictions with strict compliance offset by tax concessions.
Washington players continue to play with no risk. To this day, there has been no precedence of any player being informed of breaching gambling laws (let alone fined or penalized).
Other forms of gambling include a huge range of tribal casinos to patron. These casinos are top class, though not the mega glamour Vegas over the top VIP atmosphere. They offer fantastic sophisticated gaming in the beautiful surrounds of mountains, beaches and lakes.
Licensed card rooms are also available in Washington. These are prolific, and becoming extremely popular. The cottage industry is converging to a degree with franchises being established.
Bingo halls are many throughout the state. Governed under the Charitable gaming laws, not for profit organizations are permitted to operate bingo games. Online bingo is becoming increasingly popular, especially among young women, who are looking for that social aspect along with the chance to win prizes and small jackpots.
However, if you are looking for the convenience of gaming online, and want to get started, how about choosing from our recommended Washington gambling sites.
- Offshore operators continue to accept players from Washington.
- There are no state regulated online onshore operators.
- Washington State Lottery holds monopoly on lottery products; gambling establishments, which include card rooms, Tribal card rooms and race tracks commercially operated. The vast majority of Tribes (27 of 29) have Class III gaming compacts with the State.
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The most common question asked by Washington players, is how to choose an online casino which best meets their preferences. This is a very difficult question to answer because not all players are looking for the same gaming experience. Some may be interested in a wide variety of slots, whilst others are looking for Live Dealers at gaming tables.
In general, the core features that players should be looking out for are safety and security, customer service and payment methods. All players need to have considered these factors in choosing an online casino, while game selection may vary.
The best online casinos all have top security and safety for their players. Even though, in general, the online gaming sites are not usually targeted by cyber crime, protection is always at the forefront of top casinos. Please note, no matter how advanced the casino encryption technology is, revealing your account details and password to others obviously not the online casinos error or liability.
Customer service, just like a land based casino, is expected and needs to be accessible and prompt. All online casinos will display an email, chat line and some even have a support hotline. Naturally, if the email and chat line is non responsive, it’s quite pointless that they are being offered. The top recommended online casinos, all are accessible and have prompt customer service.
Payment methods for Washington players, extend beyond credit cards – VISA, MasterCard and Amex. Many also accept Instant Gift Cards, Neosurf and Bitcoin. If you are looking for a particular payment method make sure the online casino offers it, and be aware, that deposit methods may differ from withdrawal methods. If fees are important to you, then also note, that the cheapest method often means less reliability. This does not always hold true, but is often the case.
Sports Betting Sites
Sports betting is now legalized in Washington State with retail sports books only allowed at licensed Native American casinos.
Online sports betting sites, however, do exist and they are based offshore. They accept Washington bettors, with no precedence of any bettor being informed of a breach in law, let alone charged with a misdemeanor or felony.
Washington Daily Fantasy Sports
Daily Fantasy Sports is growing fast in popularity. New to the gambling scene, it is considered a game of skill by many which requires bettors to create a fictitious team based on real players. The performance of the real sports players in real life determine how successful the fictitious team is. As a result, it truly is those with the most “skills” will win.
The two dominate daily fantasy sports providers is DraftKings and FanDuel. On this site, we do not actively promote daily fantasy sports as we understand that it is a game of “skill” which is being exploited by bettors who have the best risk modelling. That is, it isn’t nearly about how well you know your sport, the sport players etc, it is very much about who has the best statistical model and who has access to the most detailed sports player data.
As someone who may be a big fan of sport, and thinking that they would have a good chance of winning money in DFS, think again. You are pitted against statistical modelling experts who deliberately target games that mostly have new players to DFS. In fact, it has been alleged that those who are extremely good at DFS have been known to collaborate among themselves and not compete with each other. Thereby creating a sustainable winning formula shared by the experts.
We therefore want our readers to be aware that DFS is not what is appears to be.
DFS is illegal even though sports betting has been legalized Washington States. No DFS operators included DraftKings and FanDuel are permitted to accept Washington players.
Washington Online Bingo
Washington bingo laws are stipulated under Charitable gaming state legislation. These laws provide for the licensing of non profit organizations to operate bingo games. At present, these laws do not address nor permit online bingo by onshore operators. Accordingly, online bingo sites that do accept Washington players are based offshore (which is the same as online casinos and sports betting sites).
The recommended online bingo sites all accept players from Washington. They offer advanced features that include instant messaging, fun bingo games and protocols that ensures bingo participants play together in a civil enjoyable manner. Due to the social aspect of bingo, there is a cultural aspect to bingo which cannot be found with casino or sports betting. As an example, A LOT of acronyms form part of instant chat messaging. If you are not familiar with online bingo lingo, do not be afraid, learning it is one of the most fun parts!
Legal Minimum Gambling Age
The legal minimum gambling age is 18, however native american casinos are allowed to raised the minimum age if they wish (commonly to 21).
- Onshore online operators are prohibited from operating within the market
- State legislation prohibits all unregulated gambling activities, which currently includes online gambling
- Cardroom establishments are authorized to operate card and table games, but only Tribal establishments are authorized to operate slots, VLTs, or pull tabs; Tribal gaming is authorized under the provisions of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act
- Horse race betting and pari-mutuel wagering are authorised at licensed facilities;
- advanced deposit wagering is authorised by WHRC, through licensed operators; dog race betting is expressly prohibited by law; 100 square sports pool boards are the only type of sports betting authorised in the State;
- Both commercial and charitable bingo are authorized and charitable gaming is authorized for non-profit charitable organizations
- The state does not collect a gambling tax; gambling is taxed within local cities, counties or towns
- Card room establishments are taxed at 20% of gross gaming revenue; bingo games are taxed at 5% gross gaming revenue
- Punchboards and pull-tabs are taxed between 5-10% of either gross or net gaming revenue
- The surplus from the lottery is circulated to fund educational purposes.
Regulation and Governance
- Washington Official State Codes
- Gambling Act 1973
- Indian Gaming Regulatory Act
Washington Gambling Developments
Current legislation expressly prohibits online poker within the market.
On 9 January 2015, Sherry Appleton, Representative, introduced HB1114, Relating to Authorizing and Regulating Internet Poker. The bill sought to amend the 2006 legislation on online gaming, by legalizing and regulating online poker within the State, as well as raising the levels and effectiveness of consumer protection for the people of Washington. Reference was made to the existing levels of online poker activity and that this amounted to a public interest over establishing a regulatory framework. The Bill stipulated two levels of licensing; one for B2B organisations, the other for B2C and it should be noted the Bill does not contain a bad actor clause. Regulatory costs would be determined from license fees, whilst the Commission would have authority over the rate of taxation;
HB1301, relating to fantasy sports contests was introduced and referred to the Committee on Commerce and Gaming. The Bill contained two provisions that would amend existing legislation. The first, expressed that the UIGEA, specifically exempts six fantasy sports contests from gambling regulations within the State. Reference was given to over 40 US States that have made the same determination. The second, would exempt from any classification of gambling, fantasy competitions, which are considered by the state as games of skill. This directly opposes the Gambling Commission’s views that fantasy sports are not authorized within the State and as such, are prohibited.
HB1114, did not receive a hearing in the latest legislative session, and was declared dead due to a lack of support. It is probable that the bill would be amended then re-introduced in 2016, subject to external factors across Washington and other States, as well as at federal level; H2 understood that Amaya Gaming engaged a lobbyist in Washington.
The Gambling Commission, authorized an expansion to the number of gaming machines that could be operated at tribal casinos within the market, by a majority vote of 8-1. Under the agreed, an additional 2,700 gaming machines were immediately permitted among the casinos as a collective, with an option to further increase the total number of machines going forward by thousands, which would be determined by market conditions.
The compacts were made between the State of Washington and 27 federally recognized tribes and would be signed by Gov. Jay Inslee, before being subject to approval from the US Interior Department. The two remaining federally recognised tribes would be privy to the same conditions.
WatchandWager, a subsidiary of Webis Holdings PLC, has been awarded a license to operate advanced deposit wagering by the WHRC. This is the fifth license of its kind to be granted in the state and allows operators to accept online pari-mutuel wagers on horse racing. The company will pay source market fees to the Emerald Downs Horse Race Track, which are reinvested within the racing industry.
Representatives Appleton and Buys introduced a bill to authorize online poker. HB1114, seeks to establish a regulatory framework which will allow any operator licensed by the gambling commission to offer online poker games. The bill was referred to the Commerce and Gaming Committee for consideration;
A number of state representatives introduced a bill to regulate daily fantasy sports contests. HB1301 would specifically exempt fantasy sports from the classification as gambling under the authority that it is a game of skill. The bill was referred to the Commerce and Gaming Committee for review;
A federal court ruled that social casino games do not constitute as illegal gambling under state law. The decision was based on the fact that social casino games do not award a prize of value which exempts them from the legislature’s definition of illegal gambling.
Senator Doug Ericksen introduced a bill to define daily fantasy sports contests as games of skill and exempt them from any classification of gambling. SB5169 proposed to authorize DFS in the same way HB 1301, introduce in January 2016, did but it does not include any detail on the regulation of the industry.
Concurrent bills were introduced to both chambers of the legislature to establish a voluntary gambling self-exclusion program. HB2332 and SB6331 would provide for the development and implementation of a uniform, statewide self-exclusion program that would allow gamblers to exclude themselves from multiple gambling facilities with one form. The bills were assigned to relevant committees in their respective chambers for consideration.
A District Appeals Court ruled that free-to-play social casino games constitute illegal online gambling under State law. Consequently, a number of operators, including Double Down Online and Playtika were issued lawsuits for illegally offering gambling in the State.
The Puyallup Tribe announced plans to open a replacement 10,200 square metre casino in December 2019 in Tacoma. In addition to the gaming facilities the property will include three (3) restaurants, two (2) bars and a 2,000-seat events center.
On 8 February 2019, a Bill was introduced to authorize the state’s tribal casinos to offer sports betting. HB 1975 would regulate both land based and online sports betting, subject to the terms of existing tribal-state gaming compacts. Under the current provisions of HB 1975, online sports betting would be permitted only within the physical confines of the tribal casinos.
The Washington State Gambling Commission asked for public input on the future of sports gambling in Washington, including discussion of three bills that had been introduced during the 2019 legislative session. The Commission discussed current sports gambling bills HB 1975, HB 1992, SB 5965 that had been put forward to the state legislature. HB 1975 would allow sports betting only within tribal casinos and not online. HB 1992 would allow sports betting only on-site at licensed horse racing tracks while SB 5965 was a title-only bill at the time of writing.
Legislation to authorize sports betting at tribal casinos was introduced to both the House and Senate. The concurrent bills would permit the state’s 34 tribal casinos to offer retail and mobile sports betting within their existing properties under the terms of their current gaming compacts.
The Washington House of Representatives has voted through bill HB 2638 by a vote of 83 to 14, allowing sports betting in tribal casinos, as well as mobile betting within the properties. The companion bill, SB 6394, being debated in the Senate Labour and Commerce Committee. However, an emergency amendment approved for HB 2638 means that sports betting would be legalized immediately, rather than needing a referendum, where typically it would need 60% of voter approval. Proponents of rival legislation that would open up sports betting to cardrooms as well as tribal casinos, along with full online, have stated that they believe this emergency amendment could open the legislation up to a legal challenge which could see it overturned.
The Senate passed HB 2638 to permit sports betting at the state’s tribal casinos. The bill was sent to the House for re-consideration. The House must pass the bill before the end of the legislative session on 12 March 2020 if it is to be enacted this year;
Following approval by the House, HB 2638 was signed into law by Governor Jay Inslee and authorized retail and mobile sports betting within the state’s tribal casinos. The bill took effect immediately, but the state would be required to renegotiate its compacts with the tribes before activity can commence.
The Gaming Commission announced it was in discussions with four (4) tribes regarding the renegotiation of their gaming compacts in order to allow them to operate retail and onsite mobile sports betting.
Am I allowed to play at Washington online casinos?
Yes, if you are a resident of Washington, you are accepted by online casinos.
What is the legal minimum age to play at online casinos?
Online casinos typically have their own set minimum age that they will accept. Often the minimum age is either the higher of 18 or the laws in which the player resides. For Washington players that land based minimum legal age varies between 18 to 21. (Legally 18, but some tribal casinos set the minimum as 21). Accordingly, it can be a bit of a hit and miss in knowing the accepted age at online casinos. If in doubt, check with them through their customer service channels.
Do online casinos accept credit cards?
Washington online casinos all accept credit cards – VISA, MasterCard and some Amex. They also accept Neosurt, Instant Gift Cards and Bitcoin.
Is sports betting legal in Washington State?
Sports betting through retail sports books at licensed tribal casinos are permitted. Hence, sports betting is legal in Washington.
Is DFS legal in Washington State?
DFS is considered a game of skill, and is therefore illegal in Washington State. As a result DraftKings and FanDuel do not accept any players from Washington.