Gambling in Washington is illegal unless the activity is specifically authorized by state law. Gambling involves three elements: prize, chance and consideration (wager or anything of value).
Conducting illegal gambling activities may result in criminal charges being filed against you, your organization and/or its officers, and forfeiture of all property or money associated with the illegal gambling.
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Bookmaking means taking bets or wagers on the outcome of a future event, typically sporting events, when you conduct the activity as a business and accept a fee from the bettor for the chance to place a bet.
Professional gambling is illegal and is usually connected to animal fights. State law prohibits anyone from training animals to fight, fighting animals, or being present at fights, whether or not professional gambling is taking place.
Slot machines, video poker and video pull-tabs, pachinko and pachislo machines, and other electronic games of chance are illegal in Washington.
Antique Slot Machines
It is legal to possess an antique slot machine as long as it is at least 25 years old, is played at no cost, and is not operated for gambling purposes.
Sports wagering is illegal in Washington State except at Tribal casinos with amended Class III compacts following the passage of House Bill 2638 in March 2020.
100-square sports pool boards are also permitted under restricted conditions.
Card and Dice Games
It is illegal for individuals to offer card or dice games, or any gambling activity for profit. Only licensed card rooms can collect a fee or percentage of wagers from card games.
Charitable/non-profit organizations may let their members play unlicensed card and dice games under restricted conditions.
If you have a substantial interest in, or other control over any premises, you will be held responsible and could be charged with professional gambling if you knowingly allow unauthorized gambling activity on your premises.
You are engaged in professional gambling if, acting other than as a player, you knowingly:
- Engage in conduct which materially aids any form of gambling activity;
- Pay a fee to participate in a card game, contest of chance, lottery or other gambling activity;
- Accept or receive money or other property from participation in a gambling activity.
Conduct may include activity directed toward:
- Creating or establishing the particular game, contest, scheme or device;
- Acquiring or maintaining the premises, paraphernalia, equipment or apparatus;
- Soliciting or inducing persons to participate in the activities;
- Actually conducting the playing phases;
- Arranging any of its financial or recording phases or any other phase of its operation
Criminal charges for professional gambling range from a gross misdemeanor to a class B felony. The maximum penalties range from 1 to 10 years in prison and fines of $5,000 to $20,000.
The legal age to gamble in Washington is 18. Not only is underage gambling illegal in Washington, but It can result in serious consequences, including problem gambling. Underage gambling is a civil infraction and the penalty includes a fine of up to $125, up to four hours of community service, court costs and forfeiture of any winnings.