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COVID-19 Update

Last Updated: 1/6/2021

Feedback Requested

We realize that our industry is heavily impacted by COVID-19. As we look towards recovery, we welcome feedback from our industry partners.

Office Information

Our Lacey and Spokane offices are closed to the public until further notice. This includes the suspension of fingerprinting services. The Washington State Patrol (WSP) is providing fingerprinting services by appointment only. Call 360-534-2000, option #2, to schedule an appointment.

Licensing staff members are available to assist licensees and the public by phone and email, during normal business hours. To expedite processing, we encourage all new applicants and licensees to use our online services in MyAccount. Please email our Licensing Unit at licensing@wsgc.wa.gov if you have questions or need to schedule a phone appointment.

Healthy Washington (Re-opening Info)

Through the Healthy Washington plan, businesses and activities will re-open in phases.

General Questions:

Which state agency is responsible for safety and health requirements under the Healthy Washington phases of reopening?

Washington State Department of Labor and Industries, the Department of Health and the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board.  You may refer to the COVID-19 Reopening Guidance for Businesses and Workers:

https://www.governor.wa.gov/issues/issues/covid-19-resources/covid-19-reopening-guidance-businesses-and-workers

Please contact our agency for gambling related questions. 

Nonprofit Gambling Activities

When can nonprofit organizations resume gambling operations?

Nonprofit organizations can conduct gambling operations when their organization is authorized to  operate under the "Healthy Washington" plan. We recommend you consult legal counsel for further direction.

Pull-tabs

When can I sell pull-tabs?

Licensees that are authorized to operate under the "Healthy Washington" plan may sell punchboards and pull tabs when open for on premises consumption of food and/or beverage.  The “for on premises consumption” may be outdoors.  We recommend you consult legal counsel for further direction.

https://www.governor.wa.gov/issues/issues/covid-19-resources/covid-19-reopening-guidance-businesses-and-worker

See link below for guidance on outdoor dining requirements.

https://www.governor.wa.gov/sites/default/files/Requirements%20for%20Outdoor%20Seating%2011-15-20.pdf

 

Bingo

"Healthy Washington" guidance for bingo halls, and bingo games at private clubs and fraternal organizations, has not been published. We recommend you consult legal counsel for further direction or you may submit a COVID-19 Business and Worker Inquiry at https://coronavirus.wa.gov/how-you-can-help/covid-19-business-and-worker-inquiries

Cardrooms

Outdoor cardrooms are permitted in Phase 1 of the Governor’s "Healthy Washington" plan.

https://www.governor.wa.gov/issues/issues/covid-19-resources/covid-19-reopening-guidance-businesses-and-worker

Indoor cardrooms are not permitted until Phase 2 of the "Healthy Washington" plan.

 

Do I need WSGC approval to reopen a house-banked card room?

Yes. WAC 230-15-545, requires that if a house-banked card game licensee interrupts card game operations for more than seven days, the licensee must receive written approval before resuming operations. The approval process will require an on-site inspection by a WSGC Agent.

We urge you to notify us at least five business days in advance of your planned reopening, or as soon as possible to make arrangements for the on-site inspection. Contact your agent to get a copy of what the inspection will entail.

 

On-Site Inspection Checklists

Before operating an outdoor cardroom in a temporary outdoor structure, licensees must have an on-site inspection. Please review the checklist to ensure a smooth and speedy transition prior to setting up your temporary structure.

 

Internal Control Changes for Operating in a Temporary Structure

House-banked card rooms can develop temporary Internal Controls (ICs) that address the changes for operating your card room(s) outside. You will need to get these temporary ICs approved before you can begin operations in your temporary structure. Submission of new, temporary ICs prior to your on-site inspection of the temporary structure is preferable.

 

Permits

You need to send us an email stating you have received all your permits from your local jurisdiction before we issue approval for you to operate the cardroom in your temporary structure.

 

Additional Tents or Changes to Current Structure

We must complete an on-site inspection before any additions or changes are made to an existing card room structure and before any new structures are opened. We will use the same checklist to conduct our inspection.  When adding a new structure, please send your agent an email indicating your local jurisdiction’s permit approval of this additional temporary structure when you are ready for an on-site inspection.

 

Will there be social distancing restrictions that limit the number of players on each table game, or require customers and/or employees (including dealers) to wear face masks and other protective gear?

Licensees will need to follow guidelines set forth by the "Healthy Washington" plan: https://www.governor.wa.gov/issues/issues/covid-19-resources/covid-19-reopening-guidance-businesses-and-worker. We recommend you consult legal counsel for further direction.

 

Will a house-banked card room be allowed to reduce the number of count team members?

Licensees must comply with WAC 230-15-615.

 

Since we have been closed and are low on cash, can we re-open with a reduced minimum cash on hand, and then increase it once we have generated more revenue?

No. You must meet minimum cash on hand requirements. WAC 230-15-050.

 

Will card rooms be allowed to place additional card game tables on the gaming floor if the number of players per table is reduced due to social distancing restrictions?

No. RCW 9.46.0282 limits the number of tables to 15 per establishment.

 

WAC 230-03-270 allows for a new card room employee applicant to work after a ten day waiting period and before receiving a license. Under specific circumstances, and upon paying the waiver fee, a CRE may work before the 10 day waiting period. Will the fee be waived?

No. Base license fees, new application fees, and all other license fees are due and payable immediately for any licensee not licensed as of February 29, 2020.

COVID-19 Relief Efforts

The Washington State Gambling Commission (WSGC) recognizes the COVID-19 pandemic has greatly impacted our stakeholders.

Letter to the Washington State Congressional Delegation

We are working with tribes to identify areas where we can provide relief when it comes to gaming compact obligations. The areas we’re addressing include deadlines for payments and employee certifications.

On April 24, 2020, the Small Business Administration (SBA) released revised regulatory guidelines that permit size-eligible small gaming entities to participate in the Paycheck Protection Program. The American Gaming Association issued a press release with analysis of the revised guidelines. 

In an effort to help our commercial and nonprofit licensees recover from this crisis, we are providing the following relief: 

License Renewals

If your license expired while gambling facilities were closed, the renewal period will be extended to 30 days after public venues are allowed to re-open to the public for entertainment, social or recreational purposes and onsite consumption of food and/or beverages. You can renew online through MyAccount. If your license has expired, please give us a call at 360-486-3440 ext. 2333 and leave a message; we will call you back. You can also send us an email at licensing@wsgc.wa.gov.  We will work with you to expedite the application processes. 

New License Applications and License Fees

We will continue to accept and process license applications. Fingerprinting services have been suspended but you can still submit applications and applications will still be processed. Base license fees and all other license fees are due and payable immediately upon application.

Quarterly License Fees and Quarterly License Reports

Reports for the third quarter (for all open businesses) are due by October 31. Late fees may be assessed after that date, but waivers will be considered on a case-by-case basis. If a licensed business is closed, it should apply for a late fee waiver as soon as possible.  Contact BusinessOperations@wsgc.wa.gov to apply for a late fee waiver.

Your first and second quarter 2020 reports and fees must be received by the 45th day after public venues are allowed to re-open to the public for entertainment, social or recreational purposes and onsite consumption of food and/or beverages. We will waive all late filing fees for the first and second quarter 2020 if you submit your reports and pay your fees by this date.

Payment Plan

If your quarterly license fees for the first quarter 2020 are more than $500, you can pay the amount due in two payments. To do so, by the 45th day public venues can re-open to the public for entertainment, social or recreational purposes and onsite consumption of food and/or beverages, you must:

The second ½ of your quarterly license fees are due by the 60th day public venues can re-open to the public for entertainment, social or recreational purposes and onsite consumption of food and/or beverages. Failure to pay your fees and submit your report to us as outlined above could result in administrative action against your license.

Reporting Requirements

All reporting requirements for items listed below are suspended until 30 days after public venues can re-open to the public for entertainment, social or recreational purposes and onsite consumption of food and/or beverages.

  • 230-06-080 Report changes to application information and submit updated documents and information.

  • 230-06-081 Submitting gambling service supplier contracts for review.

  • 230-06-085 Report criminal actions filed.

  • 230-06-090 Report administrative and criminal actions filed.

  • 230-06-095 Change of name, trade name, or corporate name.

  • 230-06-105 Report change of management.

  • 230-06-106 Report change of management.

  • 230-06-107 Ownership changes – Allowed.

Financial Statement Filing Extensions

House-banked card room and nonprofit licensees required to file financial statements and annual reports during the state of emergency (February 29, 2020 through the end of the state of emergency, which has yet to be determined) under the following WACs are automatically extended an additional 60 days.

  • 230-07-145 Reporting annual progress.

  • 230-07-150 Financial statements required for Group III, IV, and V.

  • 210-11-103 Independent audit required for enhanced raffles.

  • 230-15-740 Preparing required financial statements.

Nonprofit Cash Flow Waivers

We will allow nonprofit licensees to have a negative cash flow, as outlined in WAC 230-10-375, for the fiscal year that includes the state of emergency (February 29, 2020 through the end of the state of emergency, which has yet to be determined.) 

Raffles, Fundraising Events and Recreational Gaming Activities

Based upon the current COVID-19 environment, we understand that raffles, fundraising events and recreational gaming activities will need to be postponed. As a result, licensees may submit a written request to change the date of an event, without penalty or fees during this time. For raffle drawing date changes, send your request to Jim Nicks at jim.nicks@wsgc.wa.gov. For fundraising events and recreational gaming activities, send your requests to licensing@wsgc.wa.gov.  

Still have questions? Give us a call at 360-486-3606 and leave a message, or send us an email at askus@wsgc.wa.gov.

Electronic Gambling Lab

We recognize the need for the tribes and licensees to get certain products approved and installed at their facilities in order to keep their electronic gambling equipment and/or systems stable and compliant with WAC, RCW, or Tribal-State compacts. Effective September 21, 2020, the Washington State Gambling Commission’s Electronic Gambling Lab will be opening on a very limited basis in order to accept and test any submissions that could prevent system failures, correct non-compliance in the field, are deemed emergency fixes by the Independent Test Lab, or are WSGC mission critical.

If a manufacturer is unsure whether or not their submission meets the criteria above, please contact the Lab Administrator, Melissa Chicone, at melissa.chicone@wsgc.wa.gov to discuss the submission, process for setup (should a licensee need access to the lab) and submittal. In order for licensees to access the WSGC lab, they must schedule an appointment in advance to ensure there are not too many people in the lab at one time. Licensees will not be able to “drop in” or “stop by” as they have in the past. Appointments can be scheduled by contacting the Lab Administrator.

To ensure that the WSGC lab is safe for all WSGC staff and licensees, the following safety measures and guidelines will be in place for anyone that wishes to access the building:

  • Upon arrival, all licensees will be asked questions related to health conditions that they will need to answer prior to being allowed to enter the lab. If the response to any of these questions leads the screener to believe there is a COVID-19 risk based on public health factors/symptoms established by our state and local public health authorities, this person may not enter the lab and will need to reschedule for a later date.

  • Temperatures of licensees will be taken, in-person, when they arrive on-site.

  • Name of licensee(s), times of arrival and departure will be logged by EGL staff.

  • There will be a limit of no more than two different licensees in the lab at a time. Each licensee will be limited to 2 or 3 representatives at once.

  • Licensees will be required to wear a face covering the entire time they are in the WSGC lab. Face coverings will not be provided by WSGC. Licensees who do not have their own face covering will be asked to leave and return when they have one.

  • Licensees will come through the side entrance (nearest the parking lot) instead of the main public entrance. They can call or email to let the EGL Lead Engineer know they are there so that someone can let them in.

  • Licensees will practice social distancing.

  • Licensees will sanitize all surfaces they have touched when they leave the area.

Public Disclosure Requests

Our staff members continue to process public disclosure requests, but requestors may experience delays while COVID-19 restrictions are in place. If you are requesting paper records or records that require special systems or equipment to locate or compile, there will be a significant delay in producing the records.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ's)

General Licensee Questions

Will WSGC Agents meet with licensees if they request?

Agents will make every effort to accommodate licensees by phone and email. An agent's supervisor may authorize personal contact if it is deemed essential to our operations.

 

QLR’s and QLF’s are coming due what do licensees do? Will we extend the due date?

Your first quarter 2020 report and fees must be received by the 45th day after public venues are allowed to re-open to the public for entertainment, social or recreational purposes and onsite consumption of food and/or beverages. We will waive all late filing fees for the first quarter 2020 if you submit your report and pay your fees by this date.

If your quarterly license fees for the first quarter 2020 are more than $500, you can pay the amount due in two payments. To do so, by the 45th day public venues can re-open to the public for entertainment, social or recreational purposes and onsite consumption of food and/or beverages, you must:

 

Can I get a refund of my license fees if I’m forced out of business due to the ban?

No. Generally speaking our new fee restructure removes the refund option. Licensees no longer pay for a full license year in advance but now pay by the quarter only after operating. Current assessment is for gambling activity that has already occurred.

Raffles, Pull-tabs, Bingo

Will there be an extension on when bank deposits need to be made?

Our recommendation would be to make deposits upon closing and then start deposits upon re-opening. If you are not operating, then deposit requirements are not applicable. However if licensees cannot make deposits upon closing then we will not count the days of closure due to the Governors proclamation.

 

Raffles

How should operators proceed if raffle drawings that were to take place must be postponed?

Operators may submit a written request to change the date of an event, without penalty or fees during this time. For raffle drawing date changes, send your request to Jim Nicks at jim.nicks@wsgc.wa.gov

 

Can raffle operators become creative in how they sell tickets, including internet sales in some form?

No. Raffles must be operated within existing state laws and rules.

 

Pull Tabs

Depending on the length of closure, are pull tab records still required to be completed within 30 days following the end of the month? WAC 230-14-285

Yes. Pull tab records must be completed as required by WAC 230-14-285.

 

How should operators temporarily close their pull tab operations, and will we allow them to put back into play the existing pull tab games so long as they can secure them from the public and potentially employees?

Pull tab operators should temporarily remove the pull tab games from play and secure them from the public/employees. Licensees can put the games back in play when the business reopens.

 

Seal card winners have 14 days to redeem their prize; does this time pause during closures?

Yes. If the business is no longer open, the players cannot redeem the prizes. The 14- day requirement to redeem the prize should begin once the business reopens.

 

Does the closure period count for retention time of pull tabs removed from play?

Yes.  For games that have been permanently removed from play, the retention time starts following the last day of the month the game is removed from play (WAC 230-14-265).  The retention time does not begin for pull tab games that are temporarily or permanently held. 

 

Will a licensee be able to extend the time for current pull tab games on hold past the WAC 14 days?

Yes. The 14-day requirement will not apply during the required business closure. Once the licensee reopens, they should start counting off any remaining days from where they left off when the business closed. For example, if a player has reserved a game for 4 days before the business closes, the game can be held for 10 days once the business reopens.

 

How should we ensure nonprofit social clubs secure their in play and new pull tab games as well as cash banks, etc.?

Nonprofit organizations have an obligation to protect their assets WAC 230-07-060. If the nonprofit organization is closed, they should temporarily remove their pull tab games from play and ensure they are secure. New pull tab games and cash banks should be secured as they normally would be to ensure the games/funds are protected.

 

If a pull tab carry-over jackpot game does not have a tab available to win the jackpot does the game need to be replaced as soon as the business reopens. WAC 230-14-235 requires replacement within seven business days.

We will not count the days you are closed towards the seven business days.

 

If a business is open for take-out food, can they sell pull tabs while the food order is processed.

No. WA State Governor Proclamation 20-13 prohibits people from gathering in any public venue in which people congregate for purposes of public entertainment, social and recreation. We believe the selling and playing of pull tabs fall within this category.

Card Rooms and House-Banked Card Rooms (HBCR)

How should card rooms secure themselves for extended closures? Secure chips and cash in safes? Should they deposit all cash banks into their bank for safekeeping so no cash is left on premise and subject to burglary?

This is a question for each card room operator to answer. However, it is recommended that each card room secure chips and cash to limit their risk of burglary during the business closure.

 

What if a patron has chips and wishes to cash them in during the time-period of the cardroom closure?

Card Rooms are required to close. Therefore, they cannot cash out chips from patrons.

 

Do I need to keep surveillance staffed while closed?

No. The WAC rules do not require a staffed surveillance room when the licensee is closed for business. It is up to each licensee whether they have surveillance staff working during the closure. However, surveillance must be recording during the closure if drop boxes or chip trays are stored on the gambling tables (WAC 230-15-265).

 

Should chips be credited from the table to the cage for more security.

That is one option. If you do remove chips from the chip racks on the table, they must be credited through the proper procedures. You may also remove the entire locked chip rack with a proper Table Inventory Slip and secure them in the cage or soft count room. Again, it is your responsibility to protect your assets.

 

Can HBCR’s get an extension on the reporting requirements for illegal activity just prior to the ban?

No. Activity can be reported 24 hours a day via email or voice mail. There is no reason to delay reporting suspected illegal activity. If the licensee is closed for business, they are not required to report illegal activity they are not aware of. If they become aware of illegal activity, they must report as required.

 

Do House Banked Card Rooms have to do a final count?

Yes, a final count must be completed prior to the closure of the business.