The legal age to gamble in Washington is 18 years old, although some casinos that serve alcohol require patrons to be 21.
There is a current ban on sports betting at a land-based establishment in the state of Washington.
The Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act was a 1992 federal ban on all forms of regulated sports wagering. The U.S. Supreme Court lifted that ban in May 2018, but state lawmakers have done little to open the doors to the sports betting industry in the Evergreen State.
Sen. Michael Baumgartner (R—Spokane) said that, while he doesn’t see sports betting on the table any time soon for Washington, he believes allowing it would be a good move.
“The tribal gaming interests really have a lot of political influence in Olympia, so I think if it does happen in Washington state, which I think it eventually will … the tribal gaming interests will probably be a player at the table,” Baumgartner said.
Betting Laws in Washington
More than seven million people live in the state of Washington. Olympia is the state capital, while Seattle is its largest city with more than 700,000 residents.
Washington gambling laws, which are regulated by the Washington State Gambling Commission, allow licensed casinos on Indian reservations only, while also allowing licensed horse racing and certain games used to raise funds for charitable organizations.
All legalized gambling within Washington is limited to the following areas:
- Tribal casino gambling
- Horse race betting
- Social gambling
- Charitable gambling
Gambling is already popular in the state through tribal-run casinos. Washington has a total of 97 casinos and pari-mutuel facilities which are spread out across 64 cities throughout the state. The city with the most is Seattle with eight casinos.
More than 30 of the casinos in Washington are owned and managed by about two dozen Native American tribes. They are mostly concentrated on the western end of the state with three on the eastern side and three in the middle of the state.
Card rooms have been legal in Washington since 1974. Initially limited to just five tables per location, the law was changed in 1996 to allow up to 15. One year later, a provision was added to allow house-banked games.
The only remaining for-profit track in the state is Emerald Downs in Auburn. Fans can bet on live thoroughbred races from April through September. Simulcast betting is offered year-round.
The Washington Horse Racing Commission lists about a dozen off-track-betting facilities in the state. The law dictates that there may only be one satellite location per county, and not within 20 miles of a live track.
The Washington Lottery has been around since legislation was signed in July 1982 after more than nine years of debate. The state lottery sells scratch-off and lotto tickets, but the most popular games are massive interstate jackpot drawings like Mega Millions and Powerball.
The state lottery may distribute tickets through retailers but not over the Internet.
Washington Sports Betting Laws
The nature of sports betting in the U.S. varies from state to state. Some lawmakers want to emphasize mobile gambling, while others are taking a more wait-and-see approach — like this northwestern state.
Sports betting in Washington state is prohibited under state law, and would require a vote by the Washington State Legislature to authorize it, according to the state gambling commission.
Even fantasy sports betting is strictly prohibited. So far, any attempts to reverse the ban have died in the Legislature.
Online sports betting in Washington falls into a grey category of the law. In 2006, a law was passed that stated that placing wagers over the Internet was prohibited. Now, technically, state laws don’t have jurisdiction over foreign companies, so users can join trusted, top-ranked online sites like Bovada.
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Washington's Favorite Sports Teams
Seattle Seahawks (NFL)
The Seattle Seahawks joined the NFL in 1976 as an expansion team. Seahawks' fans, often referred to as the 12th Man, have twice set Guinness World Records for the loudest crowd noise at a sporting event.
The Seahawks, who are the only NFL franchise located in the Pacific Northwest, have appeared in three Super Bowls with one victory (2013).
The Seahawks are the only team to switch conferences twice in the post-merger era.
Seattle Mariners (MLB)
The Seattle Mariners joined the American League as an expansion team in 1977 and did not finish a season with a winning record until 1991. Through the 2018 season, the franchise had finished with a losing record in 28 of 42 seasons.
The Mariners won 116 games in 2001, which set the American League record for most wins in a single season and tied the 1906 Chicago Cubs for the Major League record for most wins in a single season.
The Mariners are one of seven teams who have never won a World Series, and one of two (Washington Nationals) who have never played in a World Series.
Seattle expansion team (NHL)
It was announced recently that the NHL will add a franchise in Seattle and it will enter the league for the 2021-22 season as a member of the Pacific Division.
The cost to be the 32nd franchise in the NHL will be $650 million, up from $500 million paid by the Vegas Golden Knights to enter the NHL last season.