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Sports Gambling FAQ

Is any type of sports betting legal?

In 1973, when the Gambling Act was first passed, 100 square sports pool boards were authorized. Bracket pools, office sports pools, and fantasy sports have never been authorized as gambling activities in Washington State and are illegal.

On March 25, 2020, Governor Jay Inslee signed House Bill 2638, which amends the several criminal, regulatory and licensing requirements/crimes in the Gambling Act and now authorizes sports wagering subject to the terms of tribal-state gaming compacts. Tribes' Class III gaming compacts will need to be amended; new Commission rules will need to be adopted; and any new sports wagering licenses will need to be approved before tribal casinos can offer sports wagering at current tribal casinos.

When will Washington State launch retail sportsbooks at tribal casinos?

Washington State’s new sports wagering law does not establish a date for when retail sportsbooks can be allowed to operate at tribal casinos. We are currently in tribal compact negotiations with Tribal representatives for a new sports wagering compact amendment. Retail sportsbooks will not be able to open until tribal-state compact amendments are final and any state-tribal rules and regulations are in effect, including any licensing requirements for new sports wagering businesses entering our state.

Will tribal sportsbooks be allowed to accept wagers through a mobile app and/or the internet?

Washington State’s new sports wagering law does allow for mobile sports wagering so long as the wager is placed and accepted at a tribe’s gaming facility only while the customer placing the wager is physically present on the premises. The specifics on how bets are placed through mobile apps or the internet and where those wagers can be placed while physically on a tribal casino premises will be determined through the current tribal-state compact negotiation process.

What events and wagers are allowed under Washington State’s new sports wagering law?

Washington State’s new sports wagering law authorizes sports wagering on all professional sports and events, except for minor league sports events; Olympic or international sports and events; all collegiate sports and events except for colleges and universities located in the state, and esports. The official catalog of sports and events, or the process for approval of sports and events, will be determined through the current tribal-state compact negotiation process.

I am a Sports Wagering business wishing to enter the Washington State Market, can I start the license application process now?

No. The Gambling Commission’s current licensing system does not include licenses for sports wagering. We are currently in tribal compact negotiations with Tribal representatives to develop a new licensing system for sports wagering. Once a licensing system is agreed upon, then the Gambling Commission will work with industry stakeholders to finalize the licensing system, including licensing fees, through our rule-making process that our Commissioners authorized at their July 17, 2020 Commission Meeting. Once the licensing rules are finalized, then sports wagering businesses will be able to apply for any applicable new sports wagering license.

I am a Sports Wagering business wishing to enter the Washington State Market and would like to apply as a Gambling Service Supplier, may I apply?

No. The Gambling Commission’s current licensing system, including our service supplier license, does not include licenses for sports wagering.

I am a Sports Wagering business wishing to enter the Washington State Market and would like to voluntarily apply under an existing gambling license class, may I apply?

No. The Gambling Commission’s current licensing system does not include licenses for sports wagering businesses.

What is the cost of a sports wagering license?

We have not yet determined the fee for a sports wagering license or series of licenses. We are currently in tribal compact negotiations with Tribal representatives to develop a new licensing system for sports wagering. Once a licensing system is agreed upon, then the Gambling Commission will work with industry stakeholders to finalize the licensing system, including licensing fees, through our rule-making process that our Commissioners authorized at their July 17, 2020 Commission Meeting.

How do I know if my sports pool is legal (RCW 9.46.0335)?

Sports pools are allowed under Washington State Law as long as the board is based on a single athletic event, the board is divided into 100 equal squares, numbers representing game scores are randomly assigned to squares, and you must charge no more than one dollar per square. Only one sports board is allowed per sporting event per business or party. Both businesses and individuals can conduct sports boards within strict limitation.  

Is bookmaking (sports book) legal in Washington State?

No. "Bookmaking" means accepting bets upon the outcome of future contingent events, as a business or in which the bettor is charged a fee or "vigorish" for the opportunity to place a bet. This is illegal and would be considered professional gambling. Professional gambling statutes range from first degree (class B felony) to third degree (gross misdemeanor) depending on several factors, including the amount of money and persons involved.

On March 25, 2020, Governor Jay Inslee signed House Bill 2638, which amends the several criminal, regulatory and licensing requirements/crimes in the Gambling Act and now authorizes sports wagering subject to the terms of tribal-state gaming compacts. Tribes' Class III gaming compacts will need to be amended; new Commission rules will need to be adopted; and any new sports wagering licenses will need to be approved before tribal casinos can offer sports wagering at current tribal casinos.  

Can I bet on my favorite horse?

Bets placed on horses follow different laws. For laws specific to betting on horse racing, please contact the Washington State Horse Racing Commission.

I won money on a sports bet but the bookie won't pay. What do I do?

If the bet was placed with a bookie or made in any other illegal way you have no legal recourse. However, you can anonymously report the bookie and other illegal sports betting activity you encounter to the Washington State Gambling Commission.