Administrative case process and appeals FAQ
What's an administrative case?
The Director of the Gambling Commission has the authority to suspend or revoke licenses, or deny license applications. These actions are called "administrative cases".
How will I know if I am the subject of an administrative case?
A Notice of Administrative Charges will be sent to you by certified and regular first class mail. Service is considered complete three days after mailing.
What happens after I receive the charges?
You will have the opportunity to request an administrative hearing or discuss settlements by completing and returning the Request for Hearing enclosed with the charges.
What if one of my employees received charges - do I have to fire them?
If you have a licensed employee that has received charges, that employee may continue to work unless you are notified otherwise by Commission staff. If the charges are for the denial of a license application, the applicant may not work until the matter is settled, so it's always best to check with Commission staff if you are unsure.
Do I have to stop all gambling-related activities once I receive the charges?
No, unless you have received an Order of Summary Suspension. Otherwise, you may continue to work, or conduct licensed gambling activities, until a Final Order is entered, either by the Administrative Law Judge, the Commissioners, or by a Settlement Order.
What is an Order of Summary Suspension?
An Order of Summary Suspension directs all gambling activities to stop immediately. If you are a card room employee, you must stop working as soon as you are served with the Order. If you are an operator, you must stop all gambling activities.
The Director issues summary suspensions in cases where immediate public harm would result if a licensee continued to work or operate gambling activities, pending resolution of the case. Summary suspensions usually occur when there has been illegal activity taking place at a licensed organization or when an individual has committed a serious crime. When an Order of Summary Suspension is issued, a Commission Special Agent personally serves the Order on the licensee and removes the license from the premises.
How do I request a stay hearing?
Included with the documents served on you is a Stay Hearing Request. This form allows you to have a stay hearing before an Administrative Law Judge to determine whether you can return to work while your administrative case is pending. The Stay Hearing Request must be completed and returned to the Gambling Commission's Communications & Legal Division within 15 days from the date you were served with the Order of Summary Suspension.
*The stay hearing addresses the four elements listed in the Summary Suspension and the Stay Hearing Request.
How long do I have to request a hearing?
You must send in your Hearing Request within 20 days from the date you received the charges or were personally served with the Summary Suspension.
Can I have an interpreter at the hearing?
Interpreters are provided at no charge. If you would like to have an interpreter, identify on the Hearing Request the type of translation services requested.
* It is important that Commission staff have your current mailing address and phone number for future communications. Please update this information where indicated on the Hearing Request.
What if I don't want a hearing and just wish to settle the case?
Not all cases can be settled; however, if Commission staff determines that a settlement is possible, a staff attorney or paralegal will contact you with an offer of settlement - after staff receives your request for a hearing. We may call you or send a proposed "Settlement Order" in the mail. When you receive the Settlement Order, you should read it carefully. If you agree to the settlement terms, sign and return it by the date indicated. If you have questions, call the number listed in the cover letter to talk with staff member assigned to your case. Once the Order is signed, and the terms complied with, the matter will be closed.
Can I surrender my license or certification without requesting a hearing?
The Hearing Request has a space to mark to indicate that you do not want a hearing. You can write in that you wish to surrender your license.
What if I respond late, or don't send back the Hearing Request?
If you do not request a hearing within 20 days, we will schedule a default hearing before the Commissioners at a regularly scheduled Gambling Commission meeting. Depending on the type of charges, staff will ask the Commissioners to suspend or revoke your license, or to deny your application. You will not receive formal notification of the hearing; however, default hearings appear on the agenda for all regularly scheduled public meetings. Meeting agendas are posted on our website.
Can I attend the Commission meeting?
Yes, but the Commissioners are not required to hear from you. This is why it's important to get your hearing request in within the 20-day time period.
Once I've requested a hearing, when can I expect it to be held?
Once staff receives your request, we have up to 90 days to schedule, not hold, a hearing. This allows time for any settlement negotiations, if any. If the case cannot be settled, we will set a hearing. Hearings are usually held three to four months after a hearing request is received. You will be notified of your hearing date well in advance.
If I do want a hearing, do I have to have an attorney?
This is completely up to you. Some licensees/applicants have attorneys represent them at hearing, and some represent themselves. If you choose to have an attorney represent you, you will be responsible for your attorney's fees. As set out in State law, an Assistant Attorney General represents the Gambling Commission.
What can I expect at hearing?
Compared to a court room proceeding, administrative hearings are informal. We hold hearings in a conference room at our Lacey office. Cases are heard by an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) from the Office of Administrative Hearings. This judge is an independent third party who does not work for the Gambling Commission.
You may bring witnesses to testify on your behalf. All witnesses are given an oath (sworn in) before testifying. Witnesses may not represent or speak for you; if you want someone to represent you, you must hire an attorney.
The hearing is open to any member of the public, including the media. However, usually only the parties involved attend.
The ALJ makes an audio recording of the hearing. If an appeal is later filed, a written transcript of the hearing is created from this recording.
What are my chances of winning at the hearing?
There is really no way to tell, and Gambling Commission staff cannot legally advise you about your chances of winning or losing. You must retain an attorney if you want this type of advice. At hearing, both the Gambling Commission and the licensee/applicant, tell the ALJ their side of the story, or their version of the facts.
When does the ALJ make his/her decision?
After hearing all the testimony and reviewing all of the evidence, the ALJ makes a decision, but does not announce his/her decision at the hearing. By law, the ALJ has 90 days to issue his/her Findings of Fact, Conclusions of Law, and Initial Order. You will receive this in the mail, so it is important that the Gambling Commission and the Office of Administrative Hearings have your current mailing address.
What if I don't agree with the ALJ's decision?
Within 20 days of the ALJ's ruling, either party can appeal the ALJ's order by submitting a Petition for Review to be heard by the five-person Commission. When we receive a Petition for Review, we generally schedule the hearing within two months. (Example: If a Petition for Review is received in August, the Petition would likely be heard at the October Commission meeting).
What is the five-person Commission's role when an appeal (Petition for Review) is filed?
The Commission's role is defined in the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), Chapter 34 RCW; the Commissioners are designated as "reviewing officers" and act as a reviewing court of the ALJ's Findings of Fact, Conclusions of Law and Initial Order.
Where will the Commissioners hold the Petition for Review?
Commission meetings are usually held in Olympia, although we hold one meeting in Vancouver and one meeting in Spokane each year. Approximately two weeks before the hearing, we will send you a Notice of Commission Review (similar to the Notice of Hearing you received), giving you the time, date and location of the hearing. A schedule of Commission meetings and their locations is posted on our website.
Will other people be there?
Yes, this is a monthly meeting, open to the public. Usually 25-30 people attend the meetings, and your Petition will be heard as part of the regular agenda.
What happens during the appeal/Petition for Review held by the Commissioners?
The Commissioners do not hear additional testimony or evidence from the licensee/applicant or from staff, but allow written arguments to be presented. They usually allow both parties to make oral arguments (about 10 minutes per side). Each side should explain why they think the ALJ's decision is correct or incorrect, and answer any questions the Commissioners may have.
The Commissioners receive the same documents the ALJ received, including all legal documents that were filed - for example, the Notice of Administrative Charges, Request and Notice for Hearing, and any exhibits admitted into evidence. The Commissioners also receive a transcript of the hearing, copies of the Petition for Review, the opposing party's Response to Petition for Review, and a Memorandum from staff, which gives the Commissioners a brief overview of the case. These items are sent out approximately two weeks prior to the Commission meeting and are mailed to the licensee/applicant and their attorney (if applicable) at that time.
Washington's APA (Administrative Procedure Act) requires that when reviewing the ALJ's Findings of Fact, the Commissioners must give due regard to the ALJ's opportunity to observe the witnesses. The APA also requires the Commissioners to personally consider the whole record, or such portions of it as may be cited by the parties.
When will the Commissioners make their decision?
They usually make their ruling at the meeting. After they hear from both parties, they usually go into a separate room and discuss the case. This is called an "Executive Session" and is not open to the public. After this, they announce their decision orally. The Commission's Assistant Attorney General will prepare a written Final Order and present it for signature at the next Commission meeting. The order is then mailed to all parties.
What if I don't agree with the Commission's Final Order?
After you receive the Commission's Final Order, you have ten (10) days to file a request for the Commissioners to reconsider their decision; however, you must immediately comply with the terms of the Commissioner's Final Order. Petitions for Reconsideration are heard during our regularly scheduled monthly meetings. If you file a Petition for Reconsideration, we will send you a notice of hearing prior to the hearing date. You can also appeal the decision. (See below.)
What if I want to appeal the Commission's Final Order?
You may appeal the Commission's ruling to a Superior Court Judge (see RCW 34.05.542). However, you must comply with the terms of the Commission's Final Order pending the outcome of that appeal. If the Commission revokes or suspends your license or denies your application, you may not conduct any gambling-related activity until your appeal has been resolved by the court.