On March 25, 2020, Governor Jay Inslee signed House Bill 2638, which amends several laws and 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 tribes can offer sports wagering at tribal casinos.
What we’re doing to implement sports wagering
We are currently in tribal compact negotiations with tribal representatives for a new sports wagering compact amendment. We are also drafting and amending rules to implement sports wagering. A state regulatory structure will be created to cover all aspects of sports wagering, consistent with tribal-state sports wagering compact amendments. These rules must be created and amended through the public rule-making process.
What's the latest?
July 2020: Commissioners vote unanimously to initiate rulemaking to facilitate the implementation of sports wagering. Commission files CR-101 with Code Reviser’s Office.
December 2020: Prelicensing qualification rule language was drafted and is ready for review. The proposed prelicensing qualification rules are meant to authorize the agency's prelicensing investigation process for future sports wagering licenses. Our agency's goal is to allow individuals and/or organizations the ability to get a head start on our prelicensing investigation process through these rules. These rules are not intended to become a sports wagering license or give the individual or organization a license at this time. The final draft sports wagering license rules are still part of tribal-state compact negotiations and any final sports wagering rules will be forthcoming and publicly available in the future. To submit public comment on the draft prelicensing qualification rules, please visit our Request for Public Comment page.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why can’t I play “free” sports betting apps?
This is a business decision made by the developer of the app. You should contact them.
Is any type of sports wagering 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.
When will Washington launch retail sportsbooks at tribal casinos?
Washington’s new sports wagering law does not establish a date for when retail sportsbooks will being operating at tribal casinos. We are currently in tribal compact negotiations and are working through the rulemaking process.
Will tribal sportsbooks be allowed to accept wagers through a mobile app and/or the Internet?
Washington’s new sports wagering law does allow for mobile sports wagering as long as the wager is placed and accepted at a tribe’s gaming facility 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’s new sports wagering law?
Washington’s new sports wagering law authorizes sports wagering on all professional sports and events, except for minor leagues, Olympics or international sports, in-state collegiate sports 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 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 the public rulemaking process. Once the licensing rules are finalized, sports wagering businesses will be able to apply for sports wagering licenses.
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. Fees will be determined through tribal negotiations and the public rulemaking process.
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: (1) the board is based on a single athletic event, (2) the board is divided into 100 equal squares, (3) numbers representing game scores are randomly assigned to squares, and (4) you must charge no more than $1 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?
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.
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, it is an illegal bet and you have no legal recourse; however, you can anonymously report the bookie and other illegal sports betting activity using our online tool.