Washington Online Sports Betting Laws
Sports betting is now legal in the state of Washington. The law was passed in March 2020 and the state and the local tribes who run the state’s many casinos are working to update their gaming compacts to clear the way for Washington sports betting to begin in 2021.
Administrative law and government relations attorney
Jennifer has a degree in Journalism from Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts, and graduated from George Washington University Law School, Washington, D.C, in 2005. She's been living in Las Vegas helping clients in the casino and gaming industry, as well as other regulated businesses, across Nevada for over 15 years.
She has authored and co-authored numerous articles and books on US gaming law, including most recently, The Law of Regulated Gambling: A Practical Guide for Business Lawyers, American Bar Association (2020), and That (Expletive) Broad: Women Who Broke Barriers in the Casino and Gaming Industry (2020).
Is Sports Betting Legal in Washington?
Yes, Washington sports betting was legalized in 2020, making it the 21st state to take this step.
Is Online Sports Betting Legal in Washington?
No. The 2020 legislation provided only for in-person wagering at the state’s tribal casinos.
How Old Do I Have to be to Place a Bet in Washington?
You can bet from the age of 18 in Washington casinos, although the casinos may raise the age to 21 when alcohol is served. It is expected the same rules will be applied by the casinos to in-person sports wagering.
Washington’s state governor Jay Inslee signed bill ESHB 2638 into law in March 2020, making the Evergreen State the 21st to legalize sports betting.
This represented a massive step for a state which is known as one of the strictest when it comes to the legalization of gambling activities. Steps are now under way to launch Washington sports betting, which should go live by the end of 2021.
Under the terms of the enabling legislation, sports betting will be allowed in the state’s 29 tribal casinos. Before sports betting can begin at the casinos, however, additional steps, including updating the tribal compacts with the state, need to happen.
There was a bill launched in February 2021, SB 5212, which would have allowed sports betting at cardrooms and racetracks as well as casinos. That bill died in committee, however.
The casinos in Washington are owned and run by 22 different local tribes. For any of them to offer sports betting facilities, they need to renegotiate their compacts with the state. In June 2021, the Washington State Gambling Commission approved the compact amendments that were submitted by 15 of the tribes to allow sports wagering. Now these amendments will be sent for approval by the state’s governor and the federal government – steps that must be completed before sports wagering can begin.
Under the terms of the new legislation, online sports betting will not be permitted. Sports wagering will be restricted to bettors who are physically present at casinos, rather than on a remote basis.
Yes, they will. The IRS has made it clear that winnings from all forms of gambling are seen as taxable income.
It will be important that you keep a record of all your winnings and losses from sports betting and include them in your tax return. Sportsbooks in other states are obliged to keep records too and submit them to the IRS. It is important that their records tally with yours.
It is anticipated that the minimum age for Washington sports betting will be 18, in line with the current rules at the majority of casinos in the state. However, it should be noted that the casinos have the authority to raise the minimum age to 21 when alcohol is served, so it is advised to confirm the minimum age before arriving at one of these casinos to place a sports wager.
Under the terms of the law permitting Washington sports betting, it is anticipated that mobile betting will not be allowed. The enabling legislation provides that wagers may be placed and accepted at a tribe’s gaming facility only, while the customer placing the wager is physically present on the premises of that tribe’s gaming facility.
One condition of the legislation currently being brought to fruition is that there must be no betting on matches involving the state’s college teams. This is highly relevant in Washington, which has five college programs with teams playing in Division 1 of the NCAA.
Like in every other state in the US, no sportsbook operating in the state of Washington will be able to take bets on elections – local, national, or international.
Although there is ambiguity over the legal status of Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) in many states, in Washington the position is quite clear.
DFS is banned, 100 per cent illegal, and there are stiff penalties for any operators who try to offer games to people within the Evergreen State.
DFS fans in the state will hope that the popularity of the games, and the revenue that accrues to states, might lead to a loosening of the restrictions. So could the fact that legal sports betting will soon be launched in the state.
For the moment, however, no DFS operator may offer games to people in Washington.
The Seattle Seahawks command massive support across Washington and nearby states. They won the Super Bowl in 2013 and their passionate fans have twice set a world record for the loudest crowd noise at a sporting event. That passion will undoubtedly translate into huge interest on betting on the top NFL action.
Even though Washington sports betting was not legalized until 2020, there are 29 casinos across the state and, thus several well-established agencies that work to ensure gambling is conducted in a responsible manner.
All forms of gambling are enjoyed by most people as a fun experience. For a few, however, it can spiral out of control and lead to severe personal problems.
Among the bodies offering help, advice and support are:
The Evergreen Council on Problem Gambling offers programs to teach people more about gambling issues, as well as training for counselors.
The Washington State Gambling Commission is extremely active in its efforts to ensure gambling is conducted fairly and honestly, and offers help for people with problems.
The Washington State Health Care Authority plans, delivers, and oversees the state’s problem gambling program.
Washington’s Lottery supports initiatives to address problem gambling and offers a helpline too.
The National Council on Problem Gambling provides access to state resources but also runs a 24-hour confidential helpline as well as chat and text facilities.
The Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act is struck down by the US Supreme Court. This clears the way for states to permit sports betting.
A bill, House Bill 2638, legalizing Washington sports betting is signed by state governor Jay Inslee.
Washington state engages in re-negotiation of tribal compacts to allow the state’s tribal casinos to host sports betting, as contemplated under the 2020 legislation.
In June, the Washington State Gambling Commission unanimously votes to approve the amendments to the compacts, which now must receive approval by the governor and the federal government before in-person sports betting can begin at the state’s tribal casinos.
Although Washington sports betting has been legalized, the process by which the tribes who run the state’s 29 casinos are renegotiating and amending their tribal-state gaming compacts to allow sports wagering is ongoing.
So far it is not known which casinos will offer sports betting. A full list of tribal casinos in the state can be found here.
No. The legislation passed in Washington in 2020 to allow sports wagering limits it to in-person wagering at the state’s tribal casinos. There are no provisions currently that would allow for online sports wagering.
As things stand, nowhere. Legislation was passed in 2020 permitting sports betting in the state, but the process of amending the tribal-state compacts to enable sports wagering at the state’s tribal casinos is ongoing. It is hoped that in-person wagering at these tribal casinos could launch by the end of 2021.
Not yet. Washington sports betting was legalized in 2020 but sports bettors in the state are still waiting for the service to get under way. The state is in negotiations with some of the tribes who run the 29 casinos in the state to reframe their compacts so that sports betting can begin.
No. There are no legal Washington betting sites. There may be unlicensed operators based outside the state offering online betting facilities, but these should be approached with extreme caution. In the event of a dispute arising with such an operator, for instance, you would have absolutely no legal recourse.