Not to be confused with the capital of the country, the state of Washington is about as far away as you can get from Washington, D.C. When it comes to gambling, the northwestern state has a very liberal stance on most forms of gambling, and some interesting twists on traditional gambling that are quite unique in the U.S. market. Let’s have a look at the gambling laws in the state and what changes could come in the next couple of years.
Sports Betting in Washington
Much like every other state in the country except Nevada, Washington was not allowed to offer legal sports betting operations under a 25-year-old law. That law was struck down by the Supreme Court in May 2018, and states are now allowed to decide on their own whether or not they want to provide this betting option. While the east coast states like New Jersey (who fought the argument to repeal the law in the first place) have launched real money sportsbooks to their residents, Washington has yet to pass any similar legislation but two are on the docket as of the start of 2019. Stay tuned for potential updates on sports betting law as we should see progress in 2019 with the new legislative session.
Online Sports Betting
If you are a resident of Washington and want to bet on sports, you are currently completely frozen out of doing so. There are no legal sportsbook in the state and local casinos have not started offering the product. The laws being discussed in assembly currently do not include the ability to play online but it will certainly evolve in the years to come and online sports betting will become available to Washington state residents probably soon.
Horse Betting in Washington
Horse betting is a thriving business in Washington, even though there is only one racetrack offering live racing in the state. Gamblers can head to this track to watch races, but they don’t need to be in the facility to make bets on those races or any others from around North America. There are many off-track betting locations in the state, although they are limited to one per county. This seems like more than enough facilities to handle the pari-mutuel betting that takes place in Washington.
Online Horse Betting
Strangely, even though there is legal land-based horse racing, none of these facilities are allowed to offer online versions of their product. Potential online pari-mutuel gamblers are left to seek out one of the sites open to residents of Washington but not licensed by the state. These sites, which include Twinspires and DEF Bets, give you a chance to watch horse races on their sites directly and wager on the results after you create and fund an account.
Casino Gambling in Washington
There are many tribal nations found in Washington state, and they factor in heavily in the operation of land-based casinos in Washington. These tribes created a compact with the state that allowed them to open gambling facilities, and since the first one opened in the early 1980s, dozens have followed suit. These operations include slot machines, tables games and electronic games like video poker, and with this many facilities in the state, you are never too far away from finding one.
There is an interesting twist when it comes to legal gambling in the state. There is an obscure law that allows for house-backed private table gaming. What this means is that you could have a card room that allows for house backed card games, but no slot machines or other types of gaming. There are also dozens of these facilities around the state, and they seem to be very popular with a niche group of gamblers that are not in search of the glamor of a huge casino property.
Online Casinos in Washington
Online casinos are not licensed by the state of Washington, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t any for residents to play with.
We expect that licensed online casinos will soon become available in Washington state, most likely in 2020. When they do, our team of experts will compile the list of the best online casinos for residents of Washington.
When we put a casino on this list, it is because our team feels the quality of the offering is good enough for them to put their own money on the site and play the games. This can be due to great software or excellent bonuses, or just a feeling that comes from being well taken care of as a player. No matter the reason, if the site is on this recommended list, then you can rest assured it is good for you to try.
Lottery in Washington
Washington created a state lottery all the way back in the 1980s, and since then it has generated hundreds of millions of dollars of proceeds, all of which go back into funding state-run programs. These lotteries are a major source of funding, so the state is very protective of this industry. The lottery offers draw games that happen daily and weekly, as well as a bevy of scratch tickets in retailers across the state.
Washington Gambling FAQ
Is sports betting legal in Washington?
Sports betting is not currently legal in the state of Washington. Despite a huge sports following, the state had been handcuffed by the PASPA regulations. Now that this law has been repealed, Washington is welcome to add their own regulations in an attempt to generate more tax revenue as well as trying to shut down all the illegal bookies in the state.
When will sports betting be legal in Washington?
We think that given how liberal the state is about other forms of gambling, Washington could lead the way into regulated sports betting on the West Coast. This could come as early as 2019, and while we haven’t heard much from the state legislature, two laws projects are on the as of this writing. One that would reserve sports betting to tribal casino and the other that would reserve it for the racetracks. We could see a path to a legal sports bet being taken in late 2019.
What is the best online sportsbook for residents of Washington?
At the moment, there is no legal online sportsbook in Washington.We can offer a general notion of what makes a great sportsbook however. Every online sportsbook is slightly different, and that is good to know because everyone has a slightly different view of what makes one excellent. For us, the best sportsbook really comes down to how you feel when you are betting – is the site easy to navigate, are you able to get money to and from the site quickly, and does the site respond to you quickly enough when you have an issue? All these things add up to the best possible online sportsbook experience.