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Washington Online Gambling Laws

Washington gambling law defines gambling as risking or staking something of value on the outcome or result of a future contingent event or a contest of chance where the outcome or result in not under the person's influence or control and on an agreement that in the event of a specific outcome or result someone will receive something of value. The law also defines what constitutes a contest of chance. Any event or contest in which chance plays a material role in the result or outcome is a contest of chance even if there is a skill component involved.

Washington gambling law provides exemption for regulated gambling activities as well as charitable gambling and social gambling. The law also makes repeated references to the term "professional gambling". This term has nothing to do with people who make their living by gambling. Instead, under Washington law, this term refers to involvement in the business or operation of an illegal gambling activity. At this time, there are not any state or federal laws which prohibit Washington online gambling that is legally licensed and regulated outside of the United States.

Washington Online Gambling Laws

In 2006, the state legislature passed a new law that made it a felony offense to knowingly transmit or receive gambling information by radio, telegraph, telephone, the internet, semaphore, telecommunication transmission system or similar means. This law was challenged in the state Supreme Court. In 2010 after a long legal battle, the Supreme Court ruled the 2006 law constitutional.

This law is interpreted by many as prohibiting online poker in the state of Washington. Others view the law as an attempt to prohibit illegal online gambling rings from operating in the state, and not as an attempt to keep players from participating in legally licensed and regulated online poker gaming. There are legally licensed and regulated online poker rooms that accept USA players, including players from the state of Washington. Because these sites accept players from WA, they are often referred to as Washington online poker sites though they are not located within the state's borders.

The same holds true of Washington online casinos and Washington online sports betting sites. They are actually located outside of the United States, licensed and regulated by an International governing jurisdiction. However, because they welcome USA players, including those from Washington, they are included in Washington online gambling in this guide.

History and Timeline of Washington Gambling Laws

In an attempt to control the rampant gambling amongst early settlers, the state outlawed all forms of gambling in 1889. The state took its first step towards legalizing gambling when it legalized betting on horse racing in 1933. There are four horse tracks in the state. Pari-mutuel wagering is legal at these race tracks. These race tracks do not have any gaming machines but simulcasting and off track betting do take place at these tracks. Even it there is no live race, it is possible to bet on other horse races (national and international) at these tracks.

In 1971 the state passed a law legalizing bingo and raffles but soon the law was declared unconstitutional. In 1972 the people of the state voted to legalize bingo and raffles. As a result, the state Gambling Commission was set up in 1973. The commission oversees raffles, bingo, pull tabs, keno and charity casino night fund raisers. This law does not address Washington online bingo that is licensed and regulated outside of the United States.

In 1974 the state amended its laws to legalize card rooms. Licensed card rooms can offer card games such as blackjack and poker. When card rooms were first legalized, they could offer only player banked games where the house didn't win against players. However in 1977, the law was changed to allow house banked games. Over the years, these licensed card rooms grew into nearly full casinos offering table games and unlimited pull tab machines. In 1988 the state authorized the setting up of tribal casinos. In 1997 the state allowed Indian tribes to run house banked card rooms not specifically affiliated with the tribes. By 1999 Indian tribes in the state were allowed to operate slot machines.

Washington State Social Gambling Laws

Social gambling including poker is legal in Washington subject to certain conditions. However no person is allowed to receive any profit from a social gambling activity other than personal winnings. This means there can be no rake or profit for the house and there can be no charge or fee for participating in the game.

Washington Poker Gambling Laws

Under Washington gambling law, poker is a game of chance. However it is possible to play poker in the state without violating the law. Playing poker at licensed casinos and card rooms that offer poker is legal. It is also legal to play poker at a legally licensed and regulated online poker site which is located outside of the United States.

Washington Casino Cruises and Lottery Gambling Laws

The state also has 18 licensed cruise ships which operate casino cruises. These ships depart regularly from the Port of Seattle. Washington has a state lottery that was approved in 1982 by the legislature in an attempt to solve the financial crisis the state was facing. The state Lottery Commission overseas the state lottery. The state lottery offers games like Lotto and Hit 5 as well as multi state lotteries.

Federal Gambling Laws Which Impact Washington Players

Presently federal laws do not regulate, prohibit, or criminalize playing online poker, Washington online casino games, sportsbook wagering, or bingo gaming. The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act regulates the processing of payments received from online gambling activity and not the actual participation in online gambling.

Washington Gambling Laws

Players who are looking for in depth access to the state's gambling laws and statutes can visit this site: Washington State Legislature Official Website. You will find all of the gambling laws for Washington in their official formats.

**Players who are seeking legal advice or professional interpretation of any law or statute should contact a lawyer. This site is for informational purposes only, created by experienced online gambling consultants. We do not hold any type of law degree or certification, and we are not formally trained in any area of the law. We do not provide legal advice or professional legal interpretations.