Is sports betting legal in Washington?

Yes. Washington has legalized sports betting on reservation lands of federally recognized Native American tribes in the state. It is technically available in both retail and online formats, but the vast majority of sports betting taking place in the state is occurring in person.

Retail sportsbook locations in Washington

All of the legal sportsbooks in Washington are located at tribal casinos. Roughly half of such casinos in the state have or will soon have sportsbooks. Here’s where you can bet on sports in Washington:

CasinoPartner, if anySportsbook Opening Date
7 Cedars Casinon/aOpening soon
Angel of the Winds Casino Resortn/aDec. 2, 2021
Chewelah CasinoCaesarsFeb. 11, 2022
Emerald Queen Casino & Hotel (Tacoma)BetMGMDec. 20, 2021
Emerald Queen Casino at FifeBetMGMDec. 27, 2021
Ilani Resortn/aOct. 20, 2022
Kalispel Casinon/aApril 9, 2022
Little Creek Casino ResortIGTFeb. 2, 2022
Muckleshoot CasinoCaesarsFeb. 10, 2022
Northern Quest Resort & Casinon/aDec. 6, 2021
Quil Ceda Creek CasinoDraftKingsSept. 20, 2022
Snoqualmie Casinon/aSept. 10, 2021
Spokane Tribe CasinoCaesarsFeb. 12, 2022
Suquamish Clearwater Casino ResortFanDuelFeb. 5, 2022
Tulalip Resort CasinoDraftKingsSept. 20, 2022

Live and potential sportsbook apps in Washington

Because Washington sports betting law is so restrictive about where you can bet, most tribes have confined their sports betting options to their retail gambling facilities. To date, only a single sportsbook app has launched in Washington. 

The Snoqualmie Casino sportsbook app allows players to make their wagers from anywhere on the premises of the casino itself. While restricting the use of an app to players physically at the same casino seems to defeat the point of a mobile sportsbook, it does offer bettors the chance to make in-play wagers and — to an extent — is more convenient than filing a bet at the teller window.

While there are no other sportsbook apps live in Washington at the moment, a few top online books are partnered with some of the other tribes around the state. They are, in many cases, serving as the brand name and/or using their technology to power the retail sports betting operations at these locations. So, although there is no news about any new sportsbook apps coming to Washington soon, the following might show up at some point:

In addition to these partnerships, Little Creek Casino Resort is allied with sports betting technology provider IGT. Whether this partnership will lead to an app is unclear.

Washington sports betting law

Sports betting became legal in Washington by virtue of the passage of HB 2638. The bill went to Gov. Jay Inslee’s desk in March 2020 after passing both chambers of the Washington Legislature convincingly. Inslee’s signature on the bill rendered it into law on March 25, 2020.

The text of the law made each of the state’s federally recognized Native American tribes eligible to offer sports betting on their reservation lands. They must apply for an amendment to their gambling compacts, but any tribal groups with casino locations may do so.  

The law allows both retail and online sports betting. However, the law strictly limits sports betting activity to actual tribal lands, no matter how it occurs. So, although the law technically allows online sportsbooks, the reality is that it sets up for a mostly retail market.

Washington’s sportsbooks can offer wagering on almost any type of event. The law specifically mentions professional sports, college sports, esports and the Olympics as acceptable fodder for a bet. The only exceptions are wagers involving in-state colleges and universities and minor league games. So, you can’t bet on the University of Washington Huskies, the Washington State Cougars or any of the other schools in the state.

Comparing Washington and Oregon sports betting

Of the two states that border Washington, Oregon allows sports betting, but Idaho does not. Let’s explore how Washington sports betting compares to its neighbor to the south.

The laws in both Washington and Oregon allow for online and retail sports betting. However, the entities that can legally offer sports betting in each state are quite different. In Washington, the federally recognized tribes in the state can offer sports betting, and that’s it. In Oregon, most sports betting happens through the Oregon Lottery. So, in many ways, the Oregon sports betting experience is much more of a government operation.

Oregon does offer statewide sports betting through an app. For a while, that was the Scoreboard app, a lottery brand powered by SBTech. However, the Oregon Lottery agreed to turn the branding and operation of the app over to DraftKings in August 2021, and the changeover happened in January 2022. DraftKings is the only legal sportsbook app in Oregon.

Meanwhile, Washington’s laws restrict sports betting entirely to tribal lands, regardless of how it occurs. So, although there is a single sportsbook app active in Washington (Snoqualmie), the reality is that online sports betting is largely unavailable in the state. 

Neither state’s sportsbooks have any taxes to pay under the law. Washington’s law doesn’t require any payments from tribes upfront. It only requires that participating tribes split the costs after the fact. Oregon sports betting is government-run and doesn’t have to pay taxes to itself, of course.

Finally, the retail scene for sports betting in the two states is quite different. While Washington limits the activity to tribal lands, Oregon swings in the other direction and opens the possibility of sports betting kiosks in any lottery retailer location. Additionally, due to the terms of their compacts with the state, tribes in Oregon may offer sports betting at their casinos, too.

Popular sports to bet on in Washington

Washington is home to roughly 8 million people. With that many residents, there are plenty of fanbases to root for the teams in the state. Unsurprisingly, the popular teams are based in Seattle, as it is the largest city and metropolitan area in the state. Normally, popular draws for wagering would also include major college teams. However, because of Washington’s law against betting on in-state college teams, these are not part of the menu below.

NFL

The most popular sport in the United States is football, and NFL games are the biggest draw for American sports bettors everywhere, including Washington. Washington is home to a single NFL team:

NBA

Washington’s only NBA franchise, the Seattle SuperSonics, packed up and left for Oklahoma City in 2008. Since then, Seattle (and Washington) fans and bettors have been without a hometown team.

MLB

Major League Baseball remains a presence in American sports and maintains a loyal fanbase in most of its teams’ resident cities. One of those cities is Seattle, and the fandom for the Seattle team likely extends to other states without MLB teams, like Oregon and Idaho. 

NHL

In years past there wouldn’t have been much to say about hockey in Washington, but the NHL’s newest team now calls Seattle home: 

With the Vancouver Canucks playing just across the US-Canada border from Seattle, there are likely a number of Canucks fans in the Seattle region as well.

Other legal gambling

Sports betting is not the only type of gambling that’s legal in Washington. Here is some info on your other main options:

A word about online gambling

First, though, a word about what you can’t do: Washington law makes it a felony to gamble over the internet. According to the Washington State Gambling Commission website, “it is a class C felony to knowingly transmit or receive gambling information by telephone, internet or any other similar means.” 

Class C felonies in Washington are punishable by a fine of up to $10,000 and up to five years in prison. The law further defines the term “gambling information” as “any wager made, information as to wagers, betting odds and changes in betting odds.

The commission goes on to clarify that each bet constitutes an offense. That means a single session of wagering might qualify as an entire slate of offenses.

Casinos

The most obvious places to find gambling in Washington are its casinos. Along with the sportsbook locations mentioned above, you can find slots, table games and poker at these venues. In fact, the gambling commission additionally lists the following games as possibilities at the state’s casinos: “blackjack, red dog, craps, roulette, baccarat (mini, midi and full size), pai gow poker, Sic-Bo, Big 6, chuck-a-Luck, keno, and electronic tribal lottery terminals.” So, if you’re interested in a change of pace from sports betting, try one of these places:

Make sure to visit the casino website or call ahead if there’s a specific game you want to play.

Card rooms

Another type of betting available in Washington is through the public card rooms in the state. Washington law takes the unusual approach of allowing standalone card rooms but banning social card games. Additionally, the decision to allow card rooms is up to local governments in the state, and roughly 70 jurisdictions have banned card rooms. 

Nevertheless, there are several locations to play house-banked card games in Washington. By law, they cannot have more than 15 tables, and there are wagering limits, but there are still plenty of options. In addition to poker, most card-based table games — like blackjack, Ultimate Texas Hold’em, Three Card Poker, Four Card Poker and pai gow poker — are also available at these venues. As is the case with the casinos, make sure to check your chosen room’s website or call ahead if there’s a particular game you want.

Horse betting

The state of Washington is home to two live racing venues and roughly a dozen off-track betting locations. Some of these facilities are part of some of the above casinos and card rooms, but others reside as humble diversions in local bar-and-grill restaurants. All of them offer the ability to wager on simulcast races around the country, including those taking place at one of the state’s two tracks. The two live racing locations in Washington are Emerald Downs and Sun Downs.

It is also possible to place a wager on horse races at off-track betting locations. Although Washington severely restricts online gambling, the state still allows people to play on licensed online horse betting sites. Of the available options, TVG remains one of the best, as it also offers a broadcast network.

Daily fantasy sports

There are no active daily fantasy sports providers in Washington. Washington has judged DFS to be a game of chance, and it is subject to the same criminal penalties the state has on the books for other types of online gambling. Although fantasy football games online may seem harmless, do not engage in them or attempt to seek out ways to compete in DFS contests while you are in the state of Washington.

Even office pools and March Madness pools are illegal in the state. Washington’s punitive approach to online gambling is one of the harshest in the nation, particularly in light of the myriad forms of legal gambling otherwise available in the state.

Washington sports betting FAQ

Who oversees Washington sports betting?

The Washington State Gambling Commission. Although it is somewhat unusual for a state agency to maintain oversight over activities on tribal lands, the language of the 29 compacts with the state and the lack of commercial locations in Washington make for a distinct situation.

Where can I bet on sports in Washington?

You can bet on sports at any tribal casino in the state that has applied for a license, received said license and launched sports betting on its tribal lands. There are more than a half-dozen active sportsbooks in Washington right now, and the majority of the state’s 29 federally recognized tribes have already received their licenses or applied for one already, so it appears likely that the number of active sportsbooks will continue to grow. 

Is mobile sports betting available in Washington?

Yes, but in an exceptionally limited context. Mobile sportsbooks are only legal in Washington on their host casino’s tribal lands. Some of Washington’s tribes have moved forward with this limited option, so it’s incorrect to say that mobile wagering is completely unavailable. However, for most areas of Washington, you cannot place a wager on your mobile device.

Who can bet on sports in Washington?

You must be at a tribal location that offers sports betting and of legal age to gamble at that location. Washington does not have a standardized gambling age at its casinos. You can play at some locations if you are 18, but others require you to be at least 21. It’s best to confirm with your chosen location before you travel if you have any questions about your eligibility to bet on sports.

Who can apply for a Washington sports betting license?

The state’s 29 federally recognized tribes. A complete list of tribes that have received their licenses or have applied for one is available here. Most of the state’s tribes have already received their licenses.

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