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Sports Wagering

The Washington State Constitution prohibits all gambling activities unless the activity is specifically authorized in state law.

In 1973, when the Gambling Act was first passed, 100-square sports pool boards were authorized.

The NCAA basketball “Final Four” tournament and the associated bracket pools increased in popularity after 1979 when ESPN aired the tournament on television for the first time. However, bracket pools, office sports pools, and fantasy sports have never been authorized as gambling activities in Washington State and are illegal.

Additionally, in 1992, Congress passed the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PAPSA) which states that it is “unlawful for a governmental entity to sponsor, operate, advertise, promote, license, or authorize by law or compact… gambling or wagering… on amateur or professional athletes.”

100-Square Sports Pool Boards

Both businesses and individuals may offer 100-square sports pool boards. Strict rules must be followed when offering them:

  1. Each business or individual may offer only one board on any single athletic event
  2. The board must be divided into 100 squares
  3. You may charge up to $1 per square
  4. Each player must be charged the same entry fee
  5. Each player picks a square and their name is written in the square
  6. Numbers representing game scores are randomly assigned to each square

You should develop and post house rules for how the sports pool board will be operated. For example, a deadline for collecting prize money, winner identification, requirements for someone other than a winner collecting a prize, what will happen if there is a tie, and how money will be distributed if a winning square is not sold.

The sports pool board must be available for inspection by anyone purchasing a square, Gambling Commission agents, and other law enforcement representatives.

These limitations apply to all sporting events equally (Super Bowl, Final Four, etc.).

It is illegal to have a sports pool board where you:

  • Have more than one board per athletic event
  • Offer anything other than 100 squares
  • Charge more than $1 per square

The 100-square sports pool board is the only sports wagering authorized in Washington State law.